February 25, 2013

Audits should be done by county, not state

CHICKASHA — We find the current auditing system in Oklahoma to be less than effective. It puts unneeded pressure on county treasurers while creating a nervous atmosphere among county offices during audit time.

We find a simple solution to this problem is to instill a county auditor for all 77 counties in Oklahoma via election.

Currently, there are roughly 38 people employed by the state auditor's office capable of performing the duties of the county auditor. Doubling that number should effectively combat issues like those found in Grady County's December audit in a timely fashion. The state auditor's office should still govern and maintain administrative authority over the county auditing process, and can step in to perform secondary audits on a case-by-case basis, but the governing of personnel should fall to the county commissioners. This will localize the process and allow the new county auditors to maintain knowledge and bureaucratic frequency within the county that they are elected. It also allows the voting populous of the county to hold the auditor responsible for any transgressions he or she may commit.

We don't seek to limit the power of the state auditor's office, nor do we want to raise taxes in a dramatic fashion in order to afford a new office county-to-county. Obviously revenue will have to be gained or reallocated somewhere in each county to sustain this new position, but the amount of money saved with regular local audits would be far more than the money spent to facilitate the creation of a new county office.

At the moment, auditors look to the treasurer for monetary details regarding the county, but as Grady County Treasurer Robin Burton said, "the treasurer is simply the county's checkbook." There is no need to put this undo responsibility on the treasurer. It's not part of their job description.

A county auditor system will refine the lines of work for multiple departments while improving the overall money allocation, appropriation and monitoring process. It simply brings the work closer to home and when tax payer's dollars are the ante the closer the county plays auditing to the chest, the better.

Editorials represent a consensus of the editorial board of The Express-Star.

The editorial board is comprised of the publisher, managing editor and various staff members.

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