Sunset state agencies?

APRIL 12, 2010

By STEVEN GREENHUT

Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta, has introduced legislation, on behalf of the Schwarzenegger administration, that would create the Office of the Chief Inspector “to act as an independent state entity with the sole mission to deter, detect and disclose waste, fraud and abuse in state government,” according to the senator’s fact sheet for SB887.  The legislation will be heard Tuesday at 9:30 am in committee.

As the senator’s office explains, there are quite a few auditing entities in state government already, but this one is designed to have more teeth thanks to a portion modeled on Texas law that would create a Sunset Review — a statute that would force legislators to act or else agencies would expire. No doubt, legislators would act to save every agency — have you ever known of a government agency that shuts down? — but the sunset provision would at least theoretically force the Legislature to address auditor findings during the vote.

Here is the fact sheet:

THE PROBLEM:

California currently has a number of existing auditing entities, including the Bureau of State Audits, the Department of Finance, the State Controller’s Office, the Little Hoover Commission, and the Legislative Analyst’s Office, all with various oversight roles.  State agencies and departments also have their own auditors, inspectors, and investigators that analyze internal operations.  While the state already has a wealth of ongoing entities that gather and analyze information and make efficiency recommendations, there is no statewide office exclusively charged with executing a top-to-bottom independent performance audit.  Often problems found within an agency or department are shared problems among many agencies and departments.  Audit findings are frequently ignored and agencies continue to operate in a dysfunctional manner, never addressing or resolving the identified issues and inefficiencies.  As the state continues to face record budget shortfalls, it is imperative that we not only identify any waste, fraud and inefficiencies that exist within state government, but ensure that they are addressed and corrected in a manner deserving of the public’s trust.   

 

THIS BILL

The Government Reform, Accountability and Sunset Review Act would establish the Office of the Chief Inspector General to act as an independent state entity with the sole mission to deter, detect, and disclose waste, fraud and abuse in state government.  The Chief Inspector General would be appointed by the Governor and subject to a 2/3’s confirmation by both houses of the Legislature.  All state agencies, departments and programs would be subject to a twelve year sunset review by the Chief Inspector General.   State agencies and departments would be reviewed on a rotating basis prior to each program’s scheduled sunset date.  During each review, the Inspector General would publish a report containing recommendations for statutory change based on specific criteria for review and consideration.  The Little Hoover Commission would conduct a public hearing on the Chief Inspector General’s report and either approve, modify or reject the report.  Their actions would be sent to the Legislature for consideration in the form of a bill.  The Legislature would then accept or reject the proposal as submitted by the Little Hoover Commission.  If the Legislature fails to act, the agency or department would sunset. 

 

THE GOAL

Utilizing an independent auditing entity to routinely examine all state agencies and departments would raise the bar within state government and bring new meaning to taxpayer accountability.  The sunset process would create a unique opportunity to look under the hood of all state agencies and departments and make fundamental changes to their mission and operations if necessary.  Establishing the independent office of the Chief Inspector General coupled with the implementation of sunset review would be a crucial step towards overhauling any duplicative and inefficient establishments within state government and would ensure that all functions meet the fundamental standards of efficiency, accountability, and transparency.

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  1. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 12 April, 2010, 16:03

    The Real Goal: Eliminate all state agencies.

    Reply this comment
  2. EastBayLarry
    EastBayLarry 12 April, 2010, 16:41

    StevefromSacto,
    You left out some words…
    The Real Goal: Eliminate all [wasteful or inefficient] state agencies.

    Reply this comment
  3. PRI
    PRI Author 12 April, 2010, 18:53

    Great idea. But didn’t Arnold try that with his California Performance Review back in 2005, then, as usual, not follow through?

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  4. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 13 April, 2010, 09:27

    Problem is, how to define “waste.” Right-wingers believe that spending tax money on social services like homecare and CalWorks is wasteful. Others point to the ridiculous sums spent on our Corrections budget–thanks to the strong influence of the Vengence Lobby–or the proliferation of outsourcing and no-bid contracts. Who decides?

    Reply this comment
  5. EastBayLarry
    EastBayLarry 13 April, 2010, 15:55

    StevefromSacto:
    You have hit the nail on the head. No agency is going to admit that they are ‘wasting’ money and any finger-pointers from outside an agency will have {at least} as many supporters.

    But somebody has to be the adult an make the hard choices.

    Reply this comment
  6. Fred Mangels
    Fred Mangels 14 April, 2010, 07:07

    “California currently has a number of existing auditing entities, including the Bureau of State Audits, the Department of Finance, the State Controller’s Office, the Little Hoover Commission, and the Legislative Analyst’s Office,…”.

    Maybe for starters the Office of Chief Inspector could replace all the above agencies?

    Reply this comment

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