Lower costs, not accountability

n the private sector, finding more efficient ways to do business is really not optional. Businesses that fail to innovate or increase efficiency typically do not survive as long as those that do perform these tasks. At my business, for instance, we’ve had to change our business model as the digital revolution has taken hold.

Unfortunately, the same cannot always be said for government. Certain procedures and operations get repeated year after year with very little change because “that’s the way it has always been done.”

I have been impressed by Gov. John Kasich’s and Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder’s commitment to enhance efficiency and change the way things are done in state government. In this spirit, I have introduced legislation, along with Rep. Doug Green of southwest Ohio, that lowers costs for government entities, while still maintaining the standards of accountability and transparency, which are necessary for responsible government.

Every year, the Ohio Auditor of State conducts audits of certain public offices throughout the state, such as villages, townships and public libraries. There are more than 5,700 entities in all. The costs of the audit are passed down to the entity being audited-in other words, the taxpayer. Audits are necessary and desirable procedures that protect the interests of taxpayers, but as with all parts of government, we should continually look for ways to reduce costs without sacrificing effectiveness.

Last year, the auditor’s office introduced an option for qualifying government entities to engage in “agreed-upon procedures,” or AUP, audits if their annual expenses do not exceed $5 million. An AUP audit is a lower-cost method in which the Auditor of State’s office will review procedures and controls that are targeted toward specific transactions. Particularly for smaller entities, this option will reduce audit costs, and with it reduced costs for the state auditor.

The legislation I have introduced, House Bill 6, will adopt this policy into Ohio law and, therefore, encourage political subdivisions to “raise the bar” in their accounting efforts in order to receive the reward of reduced costs.

At a time of tight budgets, we must do what we can to assist local government, and this bill will help them achieve significant savings and flexibility for reducing costs and increasing efficiency, while at the same time still performing the important duties of keeping government honest.

Rep. Thompson may be reached by calling (614) 644-8728, e-mailing Rep95@ohiohouse.gov, or writing to State Rep. Andy Thompson, 77 South High St., Columbus, Ohio 43215.