Auditor Gary Jones closes county audit gap, reorganizes agency

OKLAHOMA CITY — State Auditor & Inspector Gary Jones has reorganized the staff of the constitutional agency he assumed control over two years ago this week. A backlog of county audits has narrowed, and his staff is utilizing performance audits to scrutinize wasteful spending.

In a meeting with reporters where he outlined progress on the county audit backlog, Jones said when he assumed control of the agency after the 2010 election, he directed staff to tell him exactly how far the agency was behind in required audits, and to help craft an achievable plan to catch up.

When he took the job, only 25 of the state’s 77 counties were compliant with audit requirements. Today, 67 counties are “fully compliant,” Jones said. By the end of the current fiscal year, in June, Jones projects all 77 counties will be caught up with the standardized process, and his intention is to conduct future audits on a regular cycle.

Jones said the agency had to press some counties into compliance, due to reluctance based in an attitude her characterized as “we’ve always done it that way.” Some were using outdated audit measurements, but Jones said after some initial reluctance county officials across the state now “get it.”

In addition to recurring county audits, several investigative audits have been performed, flowing from either citizen petitioning or from the requests of District Attorneys or local officials. Audits are underway or have been requested in Miami, Elk City, Glenpool, Dewar, Beaver, Rock Island, Spencer, Healdton, New Cordell and Woodward.

Additionally, there are three instances in which law enforcement has brought charges as a result of Jones’ findings, the sheriff’s offices in Craig and Grant Counties, and a special fund in the Carter County District Attorney’s office.

In response to a question from CapitolBeatOK, Auditor Jones said the agency could benefit from “greater clarity” in state law concerning its authority to conduct performance audits and other regular auditing of government agencies. He complimented the governor, the Legislature and other state officials, and said after initial foot-dragging county officials have become “extremely responsive” to his staff.

Deputy Auditor Steve Tinsley, who came out of retirement to assist Jones after the 2010 election, will be leaving the agency in June.

Three new deputy auditor positions have been filled with existing employees, displacing several directors’ jobs in the prior organizational structure.

Lisa Hodges has assumed the job of Deputy Auditor for agency auditing and information services. Cindy Perry will be deputy auditor for local government services. Janice Buchanan will be deputy auditor for special audits, administration and public policy. 

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