One of the most important components of this year’s House government modernization effort will involve acting on a request from State Auditor Gary Jones.
Jones has requested the Legislature to take action and allow his office to establish a performance audits division that could conduct a series of performance audits of state government entities during each year.
The proposal would allow the people of Oklahoma to vote next November to place this proposal into the Oklahoma Constitution.
It is important for the proposal to be approved as a constitutional amendment to ensure the performance audits remain free from political interference (legislators can not amend the Constitution). Thorough performance audits may make many politicians very uncomfortable as they will tend to shine the light of day on the failure of state government to perform efficiently. I also suspect they will reveal a large number of state government processes that are highly vulnerable to corruption.
Currently, the Auditor can conduct these audits at the request of the Governor, the Legislature, or the head of an agency. As you might image, it is highly unlikely agency officials from a poorly performing agency would ever request the Auditor to audit their agency.
Earlier this year, Governor Fallin authorized a performance audit of the state-owned Grand River Dam Authority. That audit was released last week and brought to light a number of concerning details questioning the method by which millions of dollars were being spent. Specifically, the audit found a volatile environment exists within the GRDA thus increasing exposure to fraud, waste and abuse. If you are inclined to peruse audit documents, the entire document can be read at hd31.org/185.
The Auditor’s proposal would not only give the Auditor the authority to audit an agency but would also provide the funding mechanism to conduct the audits. This would enable the Auditor’s office to conduct a series of performance audits each year instead of just the occasional audit at the request of a public official. It would also give them a dependable revenue stream for conducting several audits at one time.
These audits would serve as the inspiration for legislation that I believe would result in significant savings to the taxpayers. The direct savings would no doubt be many times higher than the cost of the audit. The indirect savings would also be significant as I believe state officials would modify their agency’s procedures to eliminate inefficiencies due to the fact that they could be audited at any time. I have no doubt, that the implementation of these audits and ensuing legislation will prove transformative to state government.
This bill will be filed soon and I hope and believe it will be approved by the Legislature and subsequently the voters.
State Representative Jason Murphey
State Capitol Building – Room #437
2300 North Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
1(405) 557-7350 (Office)
1(405) 315-5064 (Cell)