California Agencies Hide State Audit Results from Public

The California state government has not been meeting its promise of increased transparency, according to State Inspector General Laura Chick. According to Chick, the results of hundreds of internal state agency audits have been held from the public. As reported in the Los Angeles Times’s L.A. Now blog,

State Inspector General Laura Chick called on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today to order agencies to disclose the results of hundreds of internal audits that have been kept from the public despite a promise of new transparency.

“It has come to my attention … that hundreds of valuable and important reports conducted by state departments and agencies are not yet included on your transparency web-site,” Chick wrote to the governor.

“By applying the narrow and technical definition of ‘audits,’ departments have excluded … critical reports that remain off-line and out of public view,” she wrote.

One 2008 report by the state’s Employment Development Department found that the Work Investment Board of Los Angeles County failed to comply with rules governing contract payments, executive salary limits and monitoring of receipts.

“There is no reason why this public document should not be shared with the people of California, who not only paid for the report but also paid for the original grant with their [taxpayer] dollars,” Chick wrote.

Another report last year found problems with an agency that provided energy efficiency services to low-income residents in L.A. County. The investigation of Veterans In Community Services found $1.8 million in disallowed costs, kickbacks and fraud.

“Though millions of taxpayer dollars have gone to this agency, and the case has since been closed; the report is not posted on your web-site, hidden out of public view,” Chick wrote.

To his credit, Gov. Schwarzenegger immediately ordered all agency audits to be placed on the state’s Web site. According to a statement released by the governor’s office, Schwarzenegger said, “Bureaucratic and technical excuses for not posting reports will not be tolerated.”

The cases listed by the inspector general are only a couple of examples of waste and negligence in a very large government. How much other waste and fraud goes unreported on a regular basis? Taxpayers should keep this in mind the next time a politician argues that there is no waste to cut from the state budget, or that we must look first to cut the most popular or high-priority programs to balance the budget. California needs more employees like State Inspector General Laura Chick who are willing to blow the whistle and shine light on the kinds of waste that are inevitable in an organization as big as the California state government.