Auditor Tom Schweich speaks at news conference as legislators look on

Missouri’s state auditor wants authority from the legislature to cast a wide net, auditing the largest state agencies to compare how they operate, hoping to find efficiencies and cost savings.

State Auditor Tom Schweich says he would like to review the procedures of the largest five to 10 state agencies, seeking practices that will save money and promote efficiency in state government. Schweich sees such an analysis as beneficial to the legislature’s annual budget work.

“We think it’s really going to introduce a new ability for the legislature to evaluate agencies and budgets in the future and instead of having to do a meat clever approach, because of a lack of insight into how these agencies operate, they’ll have some real data to determine where the savings can be made on a much more precise or incisive basis,” Schweich said during a news conference in his Capitol office.

Schweich was joined in the news conference by President Pro Tem Rob Mayer (R-Dexter), Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), Sen. James Lembke (R-St. Louis), Rep. Sue Allen (R-Town and Country) and Rep. Cole McNary (R-Chesterfield). Schaefer will sponsor the legislation in the Senate. Allen is the House sponsor.

Schweich said he spoke with Gov. Nixon about the proposal as well.

A comparative analysis can include such aspects as compensation, contracting practices, budgeting as well as simple operations of a department. The analysis can also review overtime policies, spending at the end of a fiscal year and travel policies.

Schweich says his office needs $300,000 to conduct such an audit, funding that he believes will reap much more in savings.

“I would hope by orders of magnitude, the savings would offset the appropriation,” Schweich said. “My past experience is when you do internal audits you find a lot of ways to save. We’ve done individual audits that suggested $40, 50, 60 million of potential savings in individual departments. So, I’m not going to make any prediction on much we think we can save by doing an comparative audit, but I think when you look at the relative cost, $300,000, and the amount of money these agencies spend, I very confident we will more than justify the appropriation we’re seeking.”

Schweich said he will make recommendations to the legislature based on the results of the audit.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1:15 MP3]

AUDIO: State Auditor Schweich news conference [13 min MP3]