Knute’s Proposed Reforms to the Secretary of State’s Audit Division
The Secretary of State has the power and the responsibility to audit all state agencies and programs and look for ways to improve efficiency, performance, and value. The Secretary of State is beholden only to the citizens of Oregon and should ensure all agencies are efficient, programs meet benchmarks, and point out when counties, cities and public programs are in danger of insolvency.
As our Secretary of State, Knute Buehler will make the position a leader in getting more out of our tax dollars by helping to those who need it most. He will push to increase audits and make agencies accountable to taxpayers – freeing up funds for critical programs like schools, law enforcement, and families in need.
1. Require all major agencies to complete audits
Knute will make sure that all major state agencies are doing their statutorily mandated annual internal audits. He will also increase performance based auditing of state agencies so that Oregonians get the biggest bang for their tax dollars.
2. Use audits to assist the Legislature with budgeting
Completing an audit is only the first step. If it sits on a shelf, it doesn’t do any good. As Secretary of State, Knute will provide the Legislature’s Ways and Means Committee with meaningful performance based audit information to help them develop agency budgets.
3. Work with the Governor to implement outcome based budgeting
Senate Bill 676 (2012) changed the way Oregon is supposed to build a budget. The bill requires a new outcome based budgeting approach. Knute will work cooperatively with the Governor to facilitate the implementation of this approach and to ensure the Legislature has the audit information needed to successfully and prudently build a state budget.
4. Review, monitor and provide feedback on local government audits
The Secretary of State’s office is tasked with reviewing the annual audits that local governments must complete. Unfortunately, under Kate Brown, the office has let far too many audits sit on the shelf. City of Molalla, City of Oakridge, City of Creswell, LaPine Soil and Water District, and the Clackamas River Water District have all had problems over the past 18 months that were indicated in their audits. Yet the Secretary of State failed to sound the alarm.
Knute will protect taxpayers and ratepayers by making sure local government audits are reviewed and assistance is provided where appropriate.
5. Track the performance of the Governor’s health and education initiatives
Healthcare and education make up nearly 75 percent of the Oregon budget. It is imperative that new initiatives in those areas are tracked closely to make sure Oregonians are getting the best bang for their buck. As a physician, board member at St. Charles Medical Center and former board member at OSU Cascades, Knute is in a unique position to track these budgets because he understands and has experience in these areas.
6. Identify fiscal problems for Oregon’s future
While Kate Brown calls it “political” for the Secretary of State to address the need for PERS reform, Knute calls it irresponsible not to advocate for reform. PERS is the largest unfunded liability most governments face, and the Secretary of State absolutely as a responsibility as State Auditor to draw attention to the fiscal problems it presents.
As State Auditor, the Secretary of State is the one person in Oregon charged with reviewing all government audits. As such, the Secretary of State’s office must look for common problems and issues that arise in these audits.
Unfunded liabilities and pension costs go to the health of government. They hinder our ability to have good schools, to protect citizens, and to provide help for our most vulnerable citizens. The Secretary of State must look at them as part of auditing, acknowledge them, and when appropriate propose reforms in the areas most detrimental to the health of government. PERS is one of those areas.