Tuesday, September 29, 2009
State Auditor Balderas Warns More Than $1 Billion of Taxpayer Dollars at Risk
Today, Auditor Hector Balderas testified before the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee that 90 governmental entities have been designated “at risk” for their failure to submit their annual and compliance audits to the Office of the State Auditor (OSA). These governmental entities received notification by letter that the OSA has designated them “at risk,” according to a statement released by Balderas today. The designation of an agency at risk will result in special monitoring by the OSA’s Special Investigations Division (SID) until the agency completes and submits any outstanding audits.
State law requires all governmental agencies to submit annual financial and compliance audits to the OSA. Balderas highlighted that failure to submit timely audits can create an environment where taxpayer funds are placed at risk for fraud, waste and abuse.
“It is imperative that taxpayers monies are properly managed, especially when resources are scarce in the midst of a budget crisis,” Balderas stated. “Over one billion dollars has been received by these governmental agencies at risk. This figure is even more alarming when considering that a special audit conducted by my office found that $3.3 million was embezzled from the Jemez Mountain School District over a period of seven years. During most of that time the District failed to submit audits. Now, all these agencies now have been put on notice that they will be held to a higher standard of accountability."
The governmental agencies receiving the at-risk designation must submit status reports to the OSA by November 2, 2009. The report must contain a detailed explanation of the agency’s efforts to complete and submit its audit, including an explanation of the current status of any ongoing audit work, a description of any obstacles encountered by the agency in completing its audit and a projected completion date for the audit.
“Outstanding audits have historically been a problem in New Mexico,” Balderas added. “State law needs robust measures to deter agencies from noncompliance with audit requirements. I propose state law be amended to withhold legislative appropriations until their annual audits are completed and submitted to my office. Requiring every governmental agency to be fully accountable for every taxpayer dollar must be a priority.”
I think they need more than a withholding of funds. They need to fire the head of each non-complying agency--no reviews, no excuses.
Posted by: Ellen Wedum | Sep 30, 2009 3:05:00 AM