Thursday, August 31, 2000

City's watchdog trading bureaucracy for desert

Internal auditor retiring after 34 years of service

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        After years of protecting taxpayers from frivolous and sometimes illegal government spending, Cincinnati's chief fiscal watchdog is walking off the job — and into the desert.

        Internal Auditor Greg Hanfbauer confirmed Wednesday that he will re tire Sept. 29 and spend the next few months backpacking in southeast Utah.

        That's far removed from the bureaucratic landscape the 52-year-old Mr. Hanfbauer has sifted through the past 34 years, where he has gained a reputation as a thorough and careful surveyor.

        “I'm calling it my sabbatical,” said Mr. Hanfbauer, hired by the city in 1966. “I don't know what I'm going to do. I won't know until I get tired of retirement.”

        He wouldn't say what prompted his retirement, only that it was personal.

        An attorney and certified public accountant, Mr. Hanfbauer for the last 12 years has been personified by hard-hitting reviews of city departments that sometimes seem at odds with the soft-spoken manager who worked quietly from a small office in a far corner of City Hall.

        “They are kind of zingers,” said Assistant Finance Director Bill Moller. “Other departments might find him demanding. ... But he has a real knack for analytical thinking. He's very resourceful.”

        Despite the successes of his department, including a 1996 investigation that led to the conviction of the former supervisor of the city's golf division on five felony counts including theft, Mr. Hanfbauer said he prefers fixing things before they're broken.

        For the past couple of years, Mr. Hanfbauer said, the internal auditor's office has been used as a tool for financial audits of departments when problems are exposed through newspaper accounts, city complaints or official inquiries.

        “The biggest change has been the ad-hoc assign ments,” he said. “There is always going to be some of that. But we have put things in place so the office can be more proactive.”

        While Mr. Hanfbauer has not decided what he will do after he tires of retirement, he said from now on his public service work will be “on a pro bono basis.” One of those jobs is volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, which builds houses for low-income families.

        No decision has been made about filling Mr. Hanfbauer's position.


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