Ohio mandates audits of state agencies to improve operations

Stateline Midwest Vol. 20, No.5: May 2011

Seeking greater efficiencies in state government operations, Ohio lawmakers are turning to the power, expertise and resources of the state auditor for help. Legislation passed in April (SB 4) requires that four performance audits of state agencies be conducted each biennium. Those audits can be of the entire agency or of a particular program or entity within it. The state auditor will consult with the governor and legislative leaders on what agencies to review each biennium.

SB 4 also establishes a new fund to make loans available to state agencies to pay for the costs of the performance audits. At the conclusion of each agency review, the auditor will offer recommendations for cost savings and operational improvements. Agencies that do not follow the recommendations will have to report back to the legislature on why the proposals were not implemented.

In a 2008 report, The Pew Center on the States recommended that legislatures expand the capacity of auditor general’s offices in order to improve government performance. That Pew study, “Grading the States,” singled out three Midwestern states for having strong auditing systems in place: Kansas, Michigan and Minnesota.