September Meeting

September Monthly Meeting – State Auditor’s Office

By Carol Woodyard

IFMA’s monthly meeting for September featured our State Auditor Beth A. Wood, CPA.  The North Carolina Office of the State Auditor (NCOSA) is known as the “Taxpayers’ Watchdog”.

NCSOA was put in place in 1862 when the General Assembly established the Office of Auditor of Public Accounts. The 1868 Constitution provided that the State Auditor should be elected by the people and was to “superintend the fiscal affairs of the State; examine and settle accounts of persons indebted to the State; liquidate claims by persons against the State; and to draw warrants on the State Treasurer for moneys to be paid out of the treasury.”  Article V, Chapter 147 of the North Carolina General Statutes gives the Auditor broad powers to examine all books, records, files, papers, documents, and financial affairs of every state agency. The Auditor also has the power to summon people to produce records and to answer questions under oath.

Ms. Wood is the 17th NC State Auditor, the first woman NC State Auditor and only the second State Auditor with a CPA.  She was first elected in 2009 and is on her second term. Ms. Wood has over 25 years of auditing experience and served in the NCOSA for more than decade before being elected to her current position.  Her first statement was that she does not audit individuals for tax compliance or examine individual tax returns.  Her achievements since 2009 are stated below in the NCSOA website.

The NCSOA website posted the following Key Facts:

  • Audit more than $46 billion in state assets and $13.7 billion in liabilities each year. Audit each of the state’s 17 public universities every year and all of the state’s clerks of court offices on a rotating basis to ensure financial standards compliance. Audit most of the state’s 58 community colleges in rotation.
  • Audit 36 programs that contribute $21 billion in federal money to the state to ensure eligibility for future grants.
  • Closed nearly 700 cases of alleged wrongdoing reported to the Office of the Auditor since 2009. Released more than 40 investigative reports, which resulted in 20 referrals to law enforcement agencies.
  • Established a new culture of customer service and improved communication of audit findings to the General Assembly, the public and the media.
  • Created a new, full-time unit to conduct follow-up audits and audits requiring a quick response to legislative requests or other time-sensitive matters.
  • Improved efficiency in all divisions while audits have become increasingly focused on finding efficiencies and waste within government agencies.

Ms. Wood discussed some of the findings NCSOA has had in the past.  These included contracts without deliverables or penalties for non-compliance, inefficient and wasteful services, overpayment of medical services by a state agency and misuse and overpayment of temporary employees by one agency.  One issue she discussed, which is close to many of us, is the use of the lowest bidder for contracts, which often results in up to a 100% increase in costs due to change orders.  She shared her siting of a beautiful yacht named…..Change Order.

If you go to http://www.ncaudit.net you will be at NCSOA’s home site with a list of recent audits; you can search for specific audits from this site.  With the oversite of our government, North Carolina is maintaining a AAA bond rating which allows us to obtain the lowest available loan rates.  The use of our taxes are being audited by NCSOA and therefore not wasted.  Although the NCSOA only audits, they can refer the audits to State Bureau of Investigation when needed.   They gladly welcome audit hotline tips which can be reported at (800) 730-TIPS  (800-730-8477).