State auditors recently asked the General Assembly to fund five new positions for a specialized type of audit and make legislative changes to improve the integrity of state finances and operations.
Last year, the Auditors of Public Accounts conducted 43 audits and made 360 recommendations to state and quasi-public agencies, which adopted about half of the recommendations, according to their annual report.
The auditors also handled 38 whistleblower complaints. The backlog of whistleblower complaints fell from 241 in 2009 to 85 at the end of last year.
By the end of 2014, the auditors plan to bring convert all of their work papers to electronic records. “We are already noticing significant productivity improvements in our audit work, which will only increase as we eliminate the storage and handling of all paper-based work papers.”
The auditors also plan to “determine whether state systems adequately maintain the integrity of data, protect against breaches of privacy, and ensure there are proper safeguards to protect against fraud.”
The auditors recommended a number of legislative changes.
For example, the auditors recommend that human resource directors should be required to report ethics violations. “Ethics violations very often pertain to human resources or personnel-related issues. However, human resources directors are not required to report these matters when they become aware of such violations. We have identified such circumstances at an audited agency.”
The auditors also suggested improvements to the state’s policy for rehiring retired state workers, especially to make sure the policies are consistent with the Internal Revenue Code.
Retired employees can return to work for up to two 120-day stints under current state rules at 75 percent of their previous pay rate.
The auditors found at least one example of a personal services contract with a retired state employee that skirted a prohibition on such arrangements by forming a limited liability company. State contractors have hired other retirees, also circumventing the rules on reemployment.
“The Internal Revenue Code requires a bona fide severance of a retiree’s employment to allow the retiree payment of a pension allowance during reemployment if under age 62,” the auditors wrote. “This requirement is not currently reflected within the General Statutes or other regulations.”
Auditors also suggested a number of opportunities for “performance audits” in a recent report. They are seeking funding for five new positions to take on more of these projects.
“As the state endeavors to find ways to operate more efficiently, performance audits could serve as a useful tool to preserve state resources and improve state services,” the auditors wrote.
The auditors reassigned staff previously dedicated to performance audits “due to reduced resources and other demands on our office.”
They suggested looking at:
– how the state processes background checks
– whether people receiving state benefits also get them in other states
– how to maximize federal funding
– energy costs and building maintenance
– the backlog of state retirement claims
– the state’s bidding process
– overpayment of unemployment benefits