EFF offers five-step program to address chronic audit findings
March 26, 2004
The State Ferry System, for example, has now failed its sixteenth audit in a row. Ah, sweet sixteen. Officials there still don't know how many passengers ride the ferries, or where all the money collected from passengers ends up. But perhaps the Department is on a twenty-year improvement plan.
We offer instead a simple five-step program for state officials struggling to deal with issues of waste, fraud and mismanagement:
1. Admit you have a problem. How many audits are necessary before state officials get serious about addressing the problems identified year after year? Wasting taxpayer dollars is not OK.
2. Accept responsibility for your actions. In state government, that also means being responsible for the programs under your control. For individuals who violate the law or commit fraud, it means tangible consequences should be enforced.
3. Set clear goals. State programs and budgets should have clear goals and measurable outcomes. That allows legislators and agency staff to evaluate whether or not they are meeting those goals, and to identify solutions and areas for improvement.
4. Allow comprehensive and independent performance audits. A good audit doesn't just follow a money trail and make a de facto report. It evaluates the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of a program so service can be improved. And it triggers immediate consequences for any wrongdoing or mismanagement uncovered.
5. Reward success. Accountability isn't all about negative reinforcement. It also acknowledges and rewards good performance. It recognizes and promotes effective governing even as it exposes and resolves ineffective governing. Successful agencies can then be emulated by others.
Taxpayers are not opposed to paying for the services we need. But we are opposed to excessive taxes and wasteful spending. We have every right to expect that the folks we hire to manage our money and services will do their job well.
There is no disgrace in agency directors facing up to the fact that they have a problem. What's disgraceful is refusing to do anything about it.
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