The first priority of an audit into cost overruns and other issues surrounding the new police headquarters building should be to get it right.
City auditor Brian Whiteside, however, says he's not sure external auditors will be able to answer all the questions in the six-month time frame approved by executive policy committee last week.
The proposed deadline was imposed to ensure the results are available before October's civic election. Councillors apparently believe it will help voters, regardless if it finds any wrongdoing at the political level.
The results could remove the stain of suspicion over some heads, but they could also seal the fate of any elected official who was found to have acted inappropriately or with negligence.
An incomplete audit, however, will not serve the public interest. A haphazard job could reach doubtful or incomplete conclusions. Such an outcome would merely leave the process where it is now, loaded with innuendo and suspicion.
Mr. Whiteside should be encouraged to complete the audit in a timely way, but ultimately he should be guided by the need to gather all the facts.
City council should eliminate the arbitrary deadline when it votes on the issue Wednesday. The auditors must be able to conduct their work in a strictly professional environment, free of political timetables and personal agendas.