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New Utah auditor will keep most staffers

Published December 11, 2012 5:37 pm

Government • He is offering to retain 29 of 38 employees who want to stay.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

While Utah will have a new state auditor next month, most of the office staff will be the same.

Utah State Auditor-elect John Dougall said Tuesday he is offering to keep 29 of the 38 current staffers who asked to stay on — and may keep the others, but they must compete for their jobs against outside applicants. The other six current staffers had either decided to retire or have found other jobs, he said.

That decision came just one day after Dougall asked all staff members — who were hired by his defeated rival, incumbent Auston Johnson — to submit letters of resignation and reapply if interested in staying. State human resources officials said all 44 employees in the office serve at the will of the auditor, and none are protected career service workers.

"I spent the last two weeks interviewing folks in the office discussing strengths and weaknesses," Dougall said in an interview. "I wanted to do the research and interviews and make this formality of the resignation letter to reappointment to be a very short window to cause less stress."

Dougall's email to staff on Monday seeking resignation letters from everyone said, "I hope you will view this transition effort as a necessary examination of the office's operations. It is a healthy process to re-evaluate direction and approach." It added that he looks to balance his team with "individuals with fresh, new ideas with others who have the wisdom that comes with experience in the trenches."

Dougall said that he has not yet offered jobs to any outside applicants. He said he is working through applications and hopes to make decisions on remaining positions in a week or so. He said most employees he is keeping were offered the same or similar jobs at the same salaries.

In the primary, Dougall — a state legislator and high-tech consultant — defeated 17-year GOP incumbent Johnson in a sometimes bitter campaign and then later defeated Democrat Mark Sage in the general election.

Dougall charged in the election that Johnson "has been missing in action for the past decade," allowing misdeeds to go undiscovered or uncorrected for too long — and promised change. Johnson charged that Dougall doesn't understand what the office must do by law and said Dougall is unqualified because he is not a certified public accountant or an auditor.