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State Inspector General

Whether you are a liberal or conservative, governmental waste should be a bi-partisan concern. Each dollar improperly used represents opportunity wasted for both the taxpayer and the intended recipient of the governmental program.

Much of the $700 million in stabilization money coming into the state’s budget from Washington must be used to fund K-12 and Higher Education at their 2008 levels. Common sense dictates that we should hold these institutions accountable.

Each institution of higher learning in this state has an elected board who should be demanding accountability on behalf of the taxpayers. Unfortunately, most boards seem to have abandoned their oversight duties to act as cheerleaders for their schools.

From 2006 through 2008, I had the privilege of serving as a trustee at Coastal Carolina University (CCU). During most of that time, I was chairman of the board’s audit committee.

When I first arrived, I was presented with a “Comprehensive Annual Financial Report” for the year ending June 30, 2006. Included in this report was a clean audit from their external auditor of several years.

Shortly after I arrived at CCU, questions arose that the procurement code had not been followed in awarding a consulting contract. This $1,000,000 contract went back for several years and was granted to a former vice president of another state university to write procedural manuals.

Due to this issue and several other circumstances, the audit committee was formed by the board to investigate the procurement problem. The board also found a new external auditor.

The audit of the year ending June 30, 2007 by the new auditor revealed a very different scenario of the university’s management of funds. A copy of the new auditor’s report can be emailed to you if requested.

As noted in his report, the auditor found that “significant deficiencies were disclosed by the audit, some of which were material weaknesses.” Among the 23 problems noted by the auditor, the following cost the taxpayers – failure to control procurement card use by employees, failure to follow the procurement code in granting the consulting contract, failure to ascertain market values when leasing property for university use, failure to cease using state money to support the operations of its private foundations, failure to control payroll hours by paying people wages in excess of time worked, failure to account for work orders and payments to contractors.

As evidenced by this audit and the recent allegations of fraud and waste in the Department of Social Services and the Employment Security Commission, taxpayers deserve accountability.

Fortunately, thirty-nine members of the House of Representatives, both Republican and Democrat, are sponsoring H3434 to create the Office of State Inspector General. Appointed by the Governor, the State Inspector General would have the authority to investigate allegations of fraud, waste and mismanagement of funds at the various state agencies.

By having a State Inspector General who reports to the Governor, the taxpayers have a clear understanding of who they can ultimately hold accountable.