New State Auditor Tom Schweich says he’ll be building on the office he’s inheriting, rather than starting from scratch.
Schweich says it’s not always enough just to publish an audit. He says he plans to do all he can to keep those he’s auditing accountable.
“The way we’re going to do these audits is very simple. You go in there, you meet with the people, it’s always done that way, you establish the parameters of the audit. You finish your audit; you sit down with them and show them your recommendations. You try to get agreement on what the changes are going to be and you put a time on that. If they don’t do it, I’m going to be back. I can assure you that they are not going to simply put it on a shelf, we will return,” Schweich said.
Schweich says he doesn’t plan to use his office to try to change state policy, and that he would be doing a disservice to Missourians to use his position as an auditor in political ways. But he says he will use his audits to get a broad amount of information about the entities involved.
“Take a step back and not only say, OK the overtime policy needs a little adjustment, and the invoicing isn’t quite right, and the procurement wasn’t quite down competitively… I want to let people know, ‘is this agency serving you well or not? We will be putting in some changes into the way the audits are delivered so that you all know what our opinion is when we finish auditing something, how do they compare relative to other school districts, relative to other agencies, relative to other commissions? Are the taxpayers getting their money’s worth, or is this an organization that needs some serious change?” Schweich said.
When Claire McCaskill was state auditor, she did so-called ‘performance audits,’ that mostly dealt with non-financial aspects of an entity’s performance. We asked Schweich if he plans to do the same.
“Performance audit is a very broad phrase and can be interpreted in a lot of different ways; I don’t really like the phrase. What I can tell you is I won’t just be looking at accounting standards, I’ll be looking at accounting standards, I will be looking at the performance of government. But I’m not going to have, like Claire McCaskill did, a separate performance division of the auditor’s office. I think it’s all part of the same thing,” Schweich said.
Schweich says he plans to complete all of the audits started by his predecessor, Susan Montee. He also has a number of audits planned for this year; including the ethics commission, a number of cities, and 23 county audits.
At his first press conference as auditor, Schweich announced his new senior staff. He says he tried to keep much of the previous staff intact, including three audit supervisors who have worked for state auditors for nearly 30 years. But he also made some new hires, including his Deputy Auditor Harry Otto, a past President of the Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants. Patricia Vincent, the former Director of the Department of Revenue, will serve as Schweich’s Director of Administration.
“I was lucky enough; I interviewed multiple people for all these positions, in some cases more than 10 or 15 people. In each case I was lucky to get my very first choice, who accepted the offer that was given to them,” Schweich said.
Schweich also hired his campaign manager as his Chief of Staff, and brought in new lawyers, media relations employees, and a legislative advisor.