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County auditor departs as County Board ‘wishes him good fortune’

County auditor Chris Horton (photo via Arlington County)

Chris Horton, Arlington County’s independent auditor since 2016, is leaving his post.

Horton was hired in late 2016 after previously serving in the Office of Auditor General at Fairfax County Public Schools. His predecessor — the first auditor hired by Arlington after receiving authorization to do so by the state legislature — resigned after less than six months on the job.

During his tenure Horton asked residents for suggestions of things to audit, then went about examining economic development incentives; purchasing practices; fire department, police and Emergency Communications Center overtime; and fleet management — among other topics.

Just last month it was reported that Horton would be looking at whether the conditions set for site plan development actually end up getting carried out, in addition to other projects set to continue through the 2023 fiscal year.

It is not clear why Horton is leaving. A somewhat unusually worded press release said that the County Board “thanks County Auditor Chris Horton for his dedicated service and wishes him good fortune on his next professional adventure.”

The release also noted “the recent addition of two staff positions in the FY 2023 budget” for the auditor’s office.

The full press release is below.

It is with great appreciation that the County Board thanks County Auditor Chris Horton for his dedicated service and wishes him good fortune on his next professional adventure. Chris has announced his departure from Arlington County to pursue new career avenues and, while he will be missed in the County Board Office, the Board hopes for the best in his next chapter. Chris began his tenure with the Auditor’s office in 2016, in its infancy. He wisely pursued a path that prioritized building a firm foundation for the work products to be delivered through his office, along with building relationships throughout the enterprise so that his office could receive maximum cooperation and add value to County departments.

“Chris has decisively advanced the office of the Auditor to become a critical asset supporting the County Board’s work and a tool of good and transparent governance,” stated County Board Vice-Chair Christian Dorsey.

Chris has over twenty years of experience in audit and risk analysis within county, city, state, and school district functions. He has led or assisted in the development of performance audit functions in three different government audit shops. He has experience in broadening organizations’ focus toward risk management, and educating senior managers on the value of focusing on governance risks, process risks, IT risks, and reputational risks, in addition to the traditional financial risks.

“I have enjoyed the opportunity to serve the Arlington community by working to create and grow the County Auditor function. This has been an ongoing partnership with the County Board and the Audit Committee,” Chris said. “The support from County management has been critical to developing the County Auditor function, and continued support from management will be crucial for the next County Auditor. With several audit reports and follow-ups complete, a mature set of Audit Committee processes, and the recent addition of two staff positions in the FY 2023 budget, the foundation for the next County Auditor is well-established.”

Chris is a dynamic trainer, focusing on ethics for auditors, auditing techniques, audit report writing, and other audit-specific topics. He is a trained and experienced control self-assessment facilitator and is currently the President of the Association of Local Government Auditors. His BS and MS are from the University of Texas – Permian Basin and he has a PhD in Public Administration from Arizona State University.

“We are thankful for his many contributions, not the least of which is the fact that we are in a strong position to build upon his accomplishments as we approach the task of hiring his successor,” stated County Board Member Takis Karantonis.

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