“The use of taxpayer funds needs to be reviewed by effective risk-based auditing processes to ensure that modern financial solutions are developed to eliminate identified deficiencies”.
– Tracie Fountain, CPA
During the 2019 budget cycle, the State Legislature cut the Auditor General Department’s budget by 10%, or 4 million dollars, even though the department remains responsible for the same 5,000 annually issued audit reports.
This 10% budget cut means that the department will have to further reduce its staff complement by at least another 40 employees. This means that the next elected Auditor General will inherit a staff complement of 400 employees or less, the smallest staff complement of any previously elected Auditor General.
I will analyze each bureau’s operations to identify where bureau-specific inefficiencies can be improved, and operating costs further reduced. I will also implement a department wide audit bureau-specific cross training initiative that will require each audit bureau director to work with the department’s ‘Training Office’ to ensure that audit staff in their respective bureaus are appropriately cross-trained on how to perform every type of audit conducted by their bureaus; thus, increasing the efficiency of each audit bureau.
The Auditor General’s Department’s rank-and-file field auditors are members of the AFSCME union. Because union members’ seniority is established by bureau, rank-and-file staff cannot be routinely transferred between bureaus, even when an audit bureau is out of audit work and another audit bureau needs additional audit staff, since such transfers would result in the loss of the transferee’s seniority.
To address these staffing inefficiencies, my administration would reach out to the union leaders to develop a temporary transfer process that will allow available rank and file audit staff to be used to temporarily assigned to audit bureaus on an as needed basis without negatively impacting any rank and file employees’ seniority.
In July 2019, the Auditor General’s Audit of Erie County’s Magisterial District Court revealed that 880 cases between 2014-2017 were improperly filed in court. Pennsylvania citizens who had committed civil offenses were, without their knowledge charged with or convicted of criminal offenses and given criminal records; negatively impacting these citizens’ lives.
I will expand the audit scope of our Magisterial District Courts to include a review of court controls in place to ensure that charged offenses are accurate, and when we find that no such controls exist or are deficient, I will issue recommendations requiring these courts to implement controls, or strengthen controls in place, that will prevent the mischaracterization of civil offenses.