THE ANSWER to the question above is yes, and though it has been evident for some months now, it has been affirmed in a report this week from Uncle Sam's financial watchdogs. The General Accounting Office has looked at city hall's money practices and concluded that "in general, the District of Columbia has a sound cash management system." Credit should go to Mayor Barry's administration for tightening financial controls--a significant accomplishment, given the horrible state of the books before elected administrations were allowed half a chance to manage them.
Not only are the city's controls on cash flow in good order, but GAO also reports that the administration has "good investment practices." Any idle funds are now being invested on a daily basis after competitive bids are obtained from several banks and brokers. City reports show approximately $103.4 million invested daily on the average during fiscal year 1981, earning about $16.7 million in interest. Also, minimum cash supplies are kept on hand to cover the government's outstanding checks, in what GAO terms "a good example of efficient cash management."
There are still other ways to boost the interest on cash received, according to GAO, some of which D.C. Controller Alphonse G. Hill had instituted before the report was completed. The mere fact that the city has its own controller is an important change in the way it has done business. In addition to the city's daily reports on cash flow, the government now has a program for paying off the long-term deficit that was accumulated over the years long before this administration or Walter Washington's.
Add to this a reduced work force, a stepped-up collection system for business taxes, ways of tracking down people who pay federal income taxes but not District income taxes, and a relationship with the White House and Congress that has produced reasonably generous annual federal payments to the city.
Management of money is one thing, of course. What that money is spent or not spent for can be the subject of much debate during the campaign. But at least taxpayers may take some comfort in the knowledge that the city's money management practices are sound.