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Operational Reviews of Arizona Courts

Navigating Arizona’s court financial system can be confusing, even more so with a recent switch between AZTEC and AJACS systems. The state completed the transition by June 30, 2020 and now everyone can begin learning the user-friendly system!

Don’t miss: Culture of busy-ness

Each court is required to complete the following, to adhere to compliance standards that are set by the Arizona Supreme Court and to ensure proper financial management:

Annually: Courts must complete the Minimum Accounting Standards (MAS) checklist. The court is responsible for completing and submitting this after each fiscal year has ended. It is important to note that all court and department employees assigned money handling responsibilities should be familiar with the MAS.

Triennially (once every three years): The court must receive an Independent Review by an auditor who is a CPA, CIA or CGAP, or is under the direction of one. A list of auditing firms is available on the website listed below.

During the Independent review by auditors, the auditor will need to physically come to the court to observe specific procedures and signage, and document items listed in the Guide for Independent Review. The auditor will want to discuss procedures and policies, as well as make selections for different types of transactions within the financial system, to review and determine if the sample met the listed requirements.

At least once every ten years: MAS Operational Review must be performed by the administrative office of the courts (AOC). This is a very detailed review of the MAS checklist, and an important part of both the independent review and the AOC review, is to determine whether the court has addressed all findings from the prior reviews. Additional findings could be reported if the court does not address and correct findings that are reported.

Arizona Constitution Article 6, Section 3 states “the Supreme Court shall have administrative supervision over all courts of the state…”. The purpose is to promote accountability, public trust and confidence in the state’s limited jurisdiction courts. Operational reviews serve to assist courts in implementing best management practices and ensure that courts are uniformly following applicable rules & procedures, state statutes, administrative orders, and local ordinances.

The sections covered and reviewed in all three reviews are as follows:

Administrative Requirements, Safeguarding Monies and Financial Records, Independent Review by Auditors, Segregation of Duties, Cash Handling, Disbursements, Bank Accounts and Deposits, Reconciliation of Financial Reporting, Outstanding Checks, Bonds and Reporting.

Each section has specific procedures in detail that the court should be following. Both the MAS Checklist and the Guide for Independent Review (Last updated May 2018) are available online.

More information and tools to have a successful review, and to comply with standards, can be found at: https://www.azcourts.gov/courtservices/Court-Operations-Unit

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Sarah Melone