Auditor shines a light on high-risk issues

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Nobody likes atrocious news, particularly a politician successful the mediate of callback predetermination and the legislative leaders scrambling to walk bills earlier the timepiece runs retired successful September. However, the instrumentality requires the authorities auditor to study to them astir statewide issues and agencies that airs a “high risk” for waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement, inefficiency and ineffectiveness. And that’s what State Auditor Elaine Howle conscionable did, successful a lengthy study issued August 19 astir the results of the state’s high-risk audit program.

The newest summation to the list, attributed to “various agencies,” is the state’s absorption of COVID-19 national funds, which according to the study “has led to inefficiency and whitethorn person resulted successful important fraud.”

Howle said her bureau has performed audits of the Department of Finance, the Employment Development Department and the California Department of Public Health. The auditors recovered that the DoF’s allocation of national funds resulted successful tiny counties receiving importantly little backing per idiosyncratic than larger counties, adjacent though the request successful smaller counties was the aforesaid if not greater. The EDD’s “significant weaknesses” successful fraud prevention were liable for billions of dollars successful “improper payments.” The Public Health section oversaw $467 cardinal successful national COVID-19 funding, resulting successful “only a tiny fraction of COVID-19 cases undergoing the afloat contact-tracing process.”

In effect to the audit’s findings, Gov. Newsom’s Department of Finance quibbled astir definitions, contending that the state’s absorption of national COVID-19 funds did not contiguous “a important hazard of superior detriment to the State oregon its residents.”

That didn’t alert with the auditor. “Given that the intent of national COVID-19 funds is to assistance Californians done a life-threatening pandemic that has upended the economy,” Howle wrote, “in our nonrecreational judgment, the hazard of superior detriment is high.”

Another programme astatine “high risk” for waste, fraud and maltreatment is the fiscal reporting and accountability strategy known arsenic FI$Cal. This exertion upgrade was expected to amended the accuracy, velocity and transparency of the state’s reporting of its much than $200 cardinal successful yearly expenditures.

The partially operational strategy is implicit fund and down schedule. A twelve ample authorities entities attempting to usage it were incapable to implicit required fiscal reports connected time. Two of them were the Department of Education and the EDD. Another high-tech occupation identified by the auditors is the state’s accusation information successful general, wherever “weaknesses persist.” The auditor’s squad has been penning up this work of the California Department of Technology arsenic “high risk” since 2013.

Other continuing problems cited successful the “high-risk” study see the information and reliability of dams and h2o infrastructure, the inadequate backing of the California State Teachers Retirement System, the deficiency of constitutionally required aesculapian attraction for situation inmates, deficiency of oversight of Mental Health Services Act Funds and issues with the information of residents successful semipermanent wellness attraction facilities.

While galore of these problems began agelong earlier Gov. Gavin Newsom’s inauguration, it is nevertheless existent that helium has failed to usage the fund surplus and unprecedented national assistance to close them, choosing different priorities, specified arsenic caller and expanded programs, alternatively of making older programs enactment arsenic promised.

Fixing what’s breached isn’t the glamorous portion of a governor’s job. But it’s the occupation the radical of California elected him to do.

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