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Auditor calls for more in-house oversight of state departments

Published August 27, 2013 4:51 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Four state agencies are violating the law and missing an opportunity to find potential fraud by not having internal audit programs, according to a report Tuesday from the Utah state auditor's office.

All told, 11 departments with a combined budget of $433 million do not have an internal audit structure, leaving them with limited oversight. Of those, four that the auditor's office said are required by law to have internal auditors — the departments of agriculture, commerce, environmental quality and public safety — have none.

However, Kristen Cox, director of the governor's office of management and budget said in response that the law actually doesn't require the departments to have in-house auditors and, if the Legislature wants such oversight, the law needs to be clarified.

In addition, Cox said there have been 180 external audits — such as reviews to ensure federal dollars are appropriately spent — conducted of state agencies so far this year.

The audit by State Auditor John Dougall's office also recommends that the Legislature create a centralized audit unit that could audit those departments that don't have their own auditors and be used to look into other matters requested by the governor.

The governor's office, however, said the statute does not provide for a shared audit office.

In the absence of adequate oversight, Dougall's office said, problems have gone undetected at the departments of corrections, health and alcoholic beverage control that could have been uncovered or stopped.

The audit also notes that in natural resources and the human services departments, the auditor has other responsibilities, as well, which is counter to recommended standards and can impede the auditors' independence.