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Agencies with repeat audit problems face cuts

Legislators hope to put more teeth into repeat audit findings of problems in state agencies. The Maryland General Assembly’s Joint Audit Committee agreed Tuesday to recommend that House and Senate budget committees and subcommittees consider cuts to administrative funding for agencies that have four or more repeat findings in consecutive audits.

The cuts would not affect programs run by agencies but would be strictly targeted toward administration. The committee hopes that its recommendations to the budget committees and Department of Legislative Services to include repeat audit findings in budget analyses will provide an enforcement tool for the Office of Legislative Audits.

The House chair of the Audit Committee, Del. Guy Guzzone, D-Howard, proposed the move at the previous hearing in mid-October.

“We had a discussion and there were a lot of ideas that were thrown around,” Guzzone said. “I felt like there was general consensus on it.”

When Guzzone recommended sending letters at the latest meeting, the committee unanimously agreed.

“They are going to make their own determination,” Guzzone said. “The recommendation is either accepted or rejected or modified. If the subcommittee feels that the recommendation dollar figure might be too much or too little, they can adjust that.”

Del. Gail Bates, R-Howard, suggested that letters also be sent to the Department of Legislative Services to ensure that repeat findings are included in its analyses of agency budgets

Bates was the lead sponsor of House Bill 843 earlier this year which called for cuts as high as 5 percent a year until auditors determine that an agency has fixed its audit problems.

Guzzone says all that is needed is to put a procedure in place.

“It doesn’t need to be legislation,” he said. “It just needs to be a procedure established by the committees and DLS.”