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Legislature controls performance audits

Rosco Streyle

Minot

The proposal to amend some of the ND State Auditors powers came from the Legislature. It stemmed directly from concerns about the Auditor shifting general fund dollars to his own budget through performance audits.

The Auditor also sought huge increases in his budget and staff (FTEs)… a power grab. Those proposals were soundly rejected by the Legislature. Additionally, there are concerns that the auditor has done away with his Performance Audit Division and co-mingled that discretionary power with his statutorily required duty to conduct fiscal audits. This raises the question of whether he is adequately staffed and executing his duty as prescribed by law.

Performance audits aren’t an original power of the auditor, they were granted by the Legislature in the 1990s. The main purpose of the Auditors office is to performance fiscal audits. The Legislature should retain all power on what performance audits are selected and which are not.

So what motivation would the Legislature have for tying his hands? They aren’t exactly friendly to executive branch agencies and are critical of spending. This simply allows them to be even more engaged in that scrutiny… a good thing!

LAFRC (Legislative Audit and Fiscal Review Committee) meetings are public, this increases transparency and accountability. This way, the public will learn sooner about the concerns that prompt performance audits.

Why isn’t the media reporting on the high turnover rate in the Auditor’s office? Why aren’t they pointing out that he tried to fire his former audit manager last session in his budget? How did the Auditor miss the $240 million oil funding Bucketgate despite auditing Land Board? Or the fact that only 5 of the 175 audits, excluding University System were performance audits according to most recent data?

The Legislature has ultimate authority over budgets and public policy. They are simply exercising it and in doing so bringing more transparency, saving money, and holding a government agency accountable. All positives for taxpayers.

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