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Department of Auditor General Recognized for Excellence In Accountability by the National State Auditors Association
Auditor General Wagner Says Real Winners Are Pa. Taxpayers
HARRISBURG (May 11, 2010) – The National State Auditors Association, a national organization representing state agencies and promoting effective financial management in state government, has given its 2010 “Excellence in Accountability Award” to the Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General for its audit of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare’s Special Allowance Program. The award is given annually to a state audit agency in recognition of government auditing excellence for a large performance audit, and it is the first time in recent years that such an award was won by the Pennsylvania Department of Auditor General.
“Congratulations to all Department of the Auditor General employees who worked on this important special performance audit,” Auditor General Jack Wagner said. “It truly was a team effort, and it’s indicative of the hard work and high professionalism that our dedicated work force exhibit every day, making sure that government programs and agencies perform as intended, with minimal waste, fraud or abuse. The real winners here are Pennsylvania taxpayers.”
Wagner’s special performance audit of the Department of Public Welfare’s Special Allowance program, released in August 2009, found that the special allowance program was rife with mismanagement and poor oversight, including a lack of documented receipts of purchases, which created an environment for potential fraud and abuse that could cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.
The purpose of the special allowance program is to provide cash assistance to cover expenses for incidentals like textbooks, supplies, equipment or tools, clothing, and child care for welfare recipients seeking employment to become self-sufficient and move from the welfare rolls to sustainable work.
Wagner’s report contained four findings and offered 32 recommendations to fix the deficiencies noted in the audit, which can be found at www.auditorgen.state.pa.us.
Wagner has identified job retention and growth, fiscal responsibility, public safety and reform of the government as his administration’s top priorities. He said his mission as auditor general is “improving the performance of government so that it improves the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians.”
On Dec 16, 2009, Wagner testified before the Senate Public Health and Welfare and Senate Republican Policy Committees detailing the audit’s findings and the improvements needed within the program.
Wagner’s audit found that during the audit period July 1, 2006 through Dec. 31, 2007, $320 million in special allowances were paid to 150,000 recipients. Wagner said that the special allowance audit was done in conjunction with his mission, with the purpose of ensuring that vital special allowance funds and taxpayer dollars are not wasted and are used appropriately, so that the designated funds are available to assist some of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens who are eligible and truly need the benefits.
The Department of Public Welfare agreed with the audit’s four findings and 32 recommendations and is implementing new regulations, developing a campaign aimed at education and training, and committing to reports that allow the public to follow progress as the program is reformed.
The NSAA “Excellence in Accountability Awards” are issued annually in three categories: Small Performance Audits; Large Performance Audits, and Special Projects. Only NSAA member offices may participate in the competition, and only audit reports issued and special projects completed during the last two calendar years are accepted entries.
NSAA encourages and provides opportunities for the free exchange of information and ideas between auditors on the state, federal and local levels and was organized in 1979 as an associate of the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers (NASACT). NASACT was founded in 1915 to allow principal state officials concerned with financial management to gather annually and discuss problems and issues of mutual interest. NASACT’s mission is to assist state leaders in enhancing and promoting effective and efficient management of government resources.
Auditor General Jack Wagner is responsible for ensuring that all state money is spent legally and properly. He is the Commonwealth’s elected independent fiscal watchdog, conducting financial audits, performance audits and special investigations. The Department of the Auditor General conducts more than 5,000 audits per year. To learn more about the Department of the Auditor General, taxpayers are encouraged to visit the department’s Web site at www.auditorgen.state.pa.us
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