Nonpartisan audit panel earns award

One of the Colorado Legislature’s least known committees is one that has done more than any other to ensure state government operates as it should, said Sen. Steve King.

And that committee, which the Grand Junction Republican is set to become chairman of in January, also is the only panel in the Legislature that is made up of an equal number of Republicans and Democrats.

As a result, regardless of which party controls the Statehouse, the Legislative Audit Committee remains nonpartisan, and for good reason, King said.

“Of all of the committees that I have I’ve ever been on in my experience in public service, by far the audit committee has been the most productive, the most rewarding and the most stressful,” he said. “But that goes with getting stuff done because it’s about holding people’s feet to the fire.”

That’s one of the reasons why the State Auditor’s Office won a national award for its work, King said.

The National Legislative Program Evaluation Society, an arm of the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures, recently honored the Colorado agency with its top award for this year, the Excellence in Evaluation Award.

That happened, in part, because of some impactive audits, ones that resulted in real fixes in state government, said State Auditor Dianne Ray.

Some of those audits included one that resulted in a complete revamping of the state’s conservation easement tax credit program, a survey of the state’s computer systems, and a study of the state’s unemployment insurance program, which found that $60 million had been paid to people who didn’t qualify for the benefit.

Each resulted in major changes in those programs, and cost savings to the state, she said.

Over the past five years, the auditor’s office made a total of 3,449 financial, performance and information technology audit recommendations.

Of those recommendations, the state agencies that they were about agreed with 99 percent, according to the audit committee’s annual report of its own work released last week.

Ray estimates that the audits the office conducts save the state, on average, nearly $30 million a year.

That’s calculated not only from improving how government offices are run, but in collection of debts and fees that have been overlooked and cost recoveries, Ray said.

“It’s a recovery of five to one on our budget,” she said. “That’s about the average, but some years we recover more.”


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