Speak Out: Auditing the auditor

State auditor Kathy McGuiness announced findings Thursday from independent auditing firm Baker Tilly that examined the differences between past leadership in the auditor’s office and her leadership since she took over as head of the Office of Auditor of Accounts in January.

• “This report paints a picture of an eroded office when I began my administration,” Ms. McGuiness said. “Baker Tilly has given me nearly 60 recommendations. I am taking a hard look at all the recommendations with the goal of making your auditor’s office a best in-class organization to best serve Delaware’s taxpayers.” Translation: More government will fix the problems that more government had originally created. — Willy Beal

• Not unusual for a liberal to play down their conservative predecessor but with the Dems basically being in control for the last 27 years they would typically have tended to be oblivious to any problems which might have occurred! I don’t recall hearing too many. — Robert Kirby

• These are all steps in the right direction. This office has been understaffed for years because of little support from the Legislature. The can and should do more. I would be in favor of using a public/private group, similar in nature to the Technology Investment Council or the Cash Management Policy Board, to provide oversight and guidance to the Auditor’s Office. This office currently has too much autonomy. — Bill Bowden

• Wagner did a good job in my opinion. I’d like to see how long it will take the new auditor to audit the state agencies. Wagner has no problem with this task. My guess is this will become a political position. — Cheryl Thompson Young

• Not enough. We need an inspector general. The Office of Inspector General investigates complaints or allegations of wrongdoing or misconduct by employees or contractors that involve or give rise to fraud, waste or abuse within the programs or operations of the departments of the state. — Frank Sims

• As a career military officer, I always took stock of every unit I ever commanded or supervised when I first arrived (I did my own “audit” myself, using feedback from employees, reviewing IG reports, statistics maintained by higher headquarters, etc. I did not spend tax payer money for an auditor, of course). I always found things that could be improved and I set goals for myself and my unit to work on those areas.

Likewise, I am sure when I left, my replacements found new directions to take the unit, as well. That is what learning organizations do. Unless McGuiness finds something wrong that was maliciously ignored, or created a danger to others, then she should just set about fixing it vs. engaging in finger pointing. After all, she came into the job taking money for her campaign that she should not have taken, according to best practices in the auditing profession (she took money from people who head up departments she will soon be auditing), so she was living in a glass house before she took over.

She does not need to begin throwing stones. And she needs to realize that she will never get that big staff back again, she will have to learn to do more with less, just like Wagner did. That can mean compromises and sacrificing vs. optimizing. I’m sure she will be able to make many improvements in areas that need it, she will have more than enough accomplishments to put on her push card for her reelection without making a dying man look like a bad person. — Gene Thornton

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