Transition complete, new Oklahoma Auditor Gary Jones ‘gets down to business’
Oklahoma State Auditor Gary Jones took his oath of office Monday (January 10, 2011). That afternoon, he began the process that will define his tenure as the official watchdog over how state tax dollars are spent.
“The transition in the State Auditor’s office has seen the least amount of turnover in personnel of any statewide office,” Jones said. “That means less turmoil and puts us in a great position to immediately start our important work on behalf of taxpayers.”
After a tough campaign in which he ousted the incumbent, Jones told CapitolBeatOK recently the transition process was cordial and productive.
Jones called Oklahoma City veteran auditor and CPA Steve Tinsley out of retirement to serve as his Deputy State Auditor, a position Tinsley held previously.
“Steve Tinsley has shortened the learning curve tremendously,” Jones said. “He’s the type of asset we need to resolve the issue of backlogged audits and provide timely, useful information to county officials and agency heads.”
Also joining the auditor’s staff as Chief Financial Officer is Diane Thomas, a CPA and resident of Comanche. Thomas most recently served as senior fiscal analyst for the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Prior to her service in the state house, Thomas was Chief Financial Officer for the Oklahoma Centennial Commission and a budget analyst for the Office of State Finance.
“Diane will do an exceptional job in helping this agency maintain fiscal accountability while we work to do the same for other government entities,” Jones said. “We’re going to set the example for other agencies to follow. It begins with fiscal responsibility and performance management to deliver a better product more effectively and efficiently.
“I want this agency to take the lead for other agencies to follow,” Jones said. “State government is bloated, it’s ineffective and we need to do a better job across the board.”
Jones met with his county audit managers and supervisors to begin the process of mapping out a solution to reduce the agency backlog of audits, some of which are four or five years behind.
“The purpose of an audit is to identify weaknesses in safeguarding assets, to ensure procedures are followed and to offer suggestions to improve efficiencies and make government more effective,” Jones said. “We can’t do that if we’re completing audits for officials who are no longer in office. We’re going to be timely in order to be helpful.”
Jones and eight other statewide elective officers took the oath of office on Monday (January 10).
He won the November election in the midst of an unprecedented Republican tide in the Sooner State, after coming close in two prior campaigns for the same job.
Jones withstood an expensive television advertising assault from the appointed Democratic incumbent, Steve Burrage. He relied on low-cost retail campaigning, as in his prior two races, eventually visiting all 77 counties in Oklahoma.
Note: Editor Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report.