Inside the Auditor’s request for funding for additional accountability audits

The Office of the Washington State Auditor has asked the Legislature for $700,000 to pay for more accountability audits of state agencies, one of Auditor Pat McCarthy’s initiatives to increase transparency and accountability in government. You can read the full request here.

State agencies routinely are subject to audits of all kinds, including regular reviews of their financial statements. This Office issues more than 2,000 audits a year of all kinds of governments, from the smallest school districts to the largest ports to state agencies.

Accountability audits, however, are a distinctive part of Washington’s open government culture, evaluating aspects of state agencies that go deeper than balance sheets. Accountability audits send auditors into the field, interviewing clients and shining a brighter light for the taxpayers.

These audits are conducted based on a risk assessment of each agency, and are not required on a specific schedule.

In the years since the Recession, the Office’s ability to conduct these audits has been hampered.

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The Recession resulted in a precipitous drop in the amount provided for accountability audits of state agencies. The funding hasn’t recovered. As a result, more than 50 state agencies haven’t received an accountability audit in four years.

Reduced funding has led to some local governments receiving more scrutiny than statewide agencies.

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Including $700,000 in the 2018 supplemental budget will result in more accountability at state agencies by paying for almost 8,000 more hours of auditing.

Accountability audits are just one tool the Auditor uses to verify for the public their tax dollars are being used for their intended purposes.