Published November 18, 2008
Do not buy performance audits? Don't tell the auditor
The governor's merciless "Do Not Buy" list of state programs includes performance audits, the bang-for-the-buck reviews of government efficiency.The Priorities of Government program issued reports last week ranking which state programs should be funded in a number of areas. The report for "State Government" was full or do-not-buy carnage – so designating 53 activities.State Auditor Brian Sonntag, who was given the power and the money to conduct performance audits in a 2005 initiative, is not impressed with the ranking."I think the citizens of Washington outlined some priorities of government, in the state Constitution," said Sonntag, adding, "Yes, I'm post-election a little cynical and sarcastic, too."As Sonntag noted, POG doesn't include public commentary. Teams of experts are assembled to decide what the priorities are in each "result area," like public safety. Just because a program ends up on the "Do Not Buy" list does not mean it will be dropped from Gov. Chris Gregoire's budget proposal. Nor does it mean the Legislature will take aim at the program.Sonntag was displeased, but not terribly concerned, that performance audits were placed among the lowest-ranking parts of state operation, alongside TVW improvements, the paid family leave program, and the Health Care Authority's new computer for state worker benefits."I don't think it was a real move (to end the audits), or I would have heard something serious from some one who matters, that being the governor," Sonntag said. "I look forward to discussions with Chris as we move forward."