The state auditor’s office is conducting an audit of the state legislature.
Democrat Nicole Galloway said her office’s reviews of the Republican-controlled House and Senate are regularly scheduled audits, the findings of the last ones having been released in 2013 under then-auditor Tom Schweich (R).
“We look at policies, procedures, adherence to laws and statutes, and report those findings. We also look at prior audits to determine if prior findings and recommendations have been implemented,” Galloway told Missourinet.
Governor Jay Nixon (D) and others have suggested that the legislature does not follow the state’s open records and meetings law. The 2013 audit of both chambers found that both chambers lacked a formal written policy about the use and retention of e-mails. The legislature told auditors it doesn’t believe the Sunshine Law applies to individual members, and Schweich’s office said the law in that area is “ambiguous.”
Schweich’s office suggested that both chambers establish an e-mail policy and archiving system and amend the Sunshine Law to clearly apply to individual members, with legitimate and needed exceptions. No such amendment has been made.
Galloway reiterated that compliance with laws is one of the things auditors investigate, and that will include the recent dismissal of a lawsuit filed by Progress Missouri against the senate for alleged Sunshine Law violations.
“I’ll withhold judgment on that until the work of the audit is done,” said Galloway.
The 2013 audit also noted raises given to House staff beyond the 2-percent cost of living adjustment given to other state employees making less than $70-thousand a year. Recent audit’s by Schweich’s office of the Attorney General and Governor noted similar raises.
The Senate was also found to have spent more than $21-thousand in 2009 for a review of its policies and procedures by the National Conference of State Legislatures, but never implemented some of the Conference’s recommendations.
Galloway said her office will see if those have been implemented since the 2013 audit.
“Those include developing a written job description for office staff, including policies in the employee handbook, and holding training for senators and staff on personnel policies,” said Galloway.
In 2013 the auditor’s office also suggested both chambers needed to develop a plan for resuming business after a disaster, and said the House needed to obtain and keep documentation for items reported as stolen.
How long the audit will take is unpredictable, but Galloway says they typically take several months.