LIMA — To encourage government efficiency, Ohio Auditor Keith Faber is looking to expand the use of state performance audits of city and county governments.
Performance audits of state agencies are a relatively new tool in Ohio’s belt. Created in 2011 to tamp down on wasteful government spending, Ohio’s auditor of state is required to conduct such evaluations on two state agencies every year. But Faber, who was elected this past November, said the use of such performance audits should be expanded and encouraged.
“As long as we keep getting a positive (return on investment), it’s a good thing to do,” Faber said.
Since 2011, the auditor’s office estimates savings of $103.6 million from the 12 performance audits conducted on state agencies since they became required in 2011.
As for their effectiveness on smaller aspects of government, Faber used the example of an audit conducted on a handful of business costs incurred by The Ohio State University.
“Essentially we looked at copy services, data centers and parking and found $6.5 million of savings. That’s pretty good ROI on stuff, I say, that’s not even low-hanging fruit. That’s the fruit that’s already been kicked to the ground,” Faber said.
Due to such savings, Faber is pushing to expand the role of such audits. He recommends each state agency to undergo the 12-month process every four to six years.
Local governments could also benefit from the service, and Faber said, it would behoove the state to set processes in place to encourage such use. Faber said he’s working to ensure local governments have the funds available to hire the state to conduct a performance audit.
Currently, the auditor’s office is funded through billable hours collected from the state from local agencies, usually at a reduced rate. But if the state wants local governments to be able to use their services, Faber said the state could use its budget to offset the cost of an audit. To do so, the Ohio General Assembly would need to set aside a budget line specifically for the auditor in order to pay for audits on smaller governmental entities — something Faber is working toward as the General Assembly creates its biannual budget.
“It’s part of our partnership. We should be helping where we can. Find efficiencies for ‘Bob and Betty Buckeye.’ … (They) don’t care whether their tax dollars go to local government, county government, the school district, or the state government. They see them as their tax dollars,” Faber said. “They don’t differentiate.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.