CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on Thursday sent a letter to House Speaker Tim Miley asking members of the Legislature to join him in his call to revamp the auditing process of state agencies, offices, and departments to reduce the risk of fraud or abuse, and minimize waste in government.
“Regular in-depth audits of agency practices will increase transparency and accountability,” Morrisey said in a press release. “Right now, the state’s Office of the Legislative Auditor is not required by statute to conduct even periodic audits of state agencies, constitutional offices, or the Legislature. As such, I respectfully request that Speaker Miley help advance this important reform during this Legislative session.”
Morrisey said his belief in the need for regular audits was cemented when an audit of a loan program operated by the Department of Agriculture highlighted suspicious activities about how loans were awarded, the amount of collateral required, and who received the loans. Lawmakers turned over information from the audit to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Morrisey’s interest in helping to create a better system of audits also was spurred when he became Attorney General and learned parts of his Office had not been audited in at least 20 years. An audit performed last spring by the Office of the Legislative Auditor uncovered some highly irregular and problematic practices. The first portion of the audit was released in June. The second half should be completed later this year.
“Had state agencies been subject to an audit every two or three years, we would not likely have seen the type of financial mismanagement that arose in the Department of Agriculture audit,” Morrisey said. “Now is the time for the state to review how, when, and why agencies are audited and make sure there is a trusted agency, such as the Legislative Auditor’s Office, that can provide a review of actions and expenditures.”
Legislative audits may measure the performance of state agencies, offices, and departments to ensure they are compliant with the law and conduct business as they should. Audits may not only look at how agencies receive, spend, and account for money, but they also can review whether programs are working as they should.
Morrisey’s letter asks Miley, D-Harrison, and legislative leaders to implement the following changes:
* Undertake audits of every major state agency, constitutional office, and the Legislature as soon as possible, with the first of these audits being completed by September.
* Overhaul the government auditing process so the legislative auditor has the authority and resources to comprehensively audit every major state agency, each constitutional office, and the Legislature on a specified, rolling basis.
* Embrace interagency cooperation to ensure audits are completed in a timely fashion and any problems uncovered will be addressed.
“I am willing to commit the experience of the Attorney General’s Office to the goal of reducing waste, fraud, and abuse in government wherever it may be found,” Morrisey said. “Our office has many tasks that it must accomplish, but ensuring that taxpayers’ dollars are being well-spent must be everyone’s priority.
"This should not be a partisan issue.”