Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway said today she will conduct a performance audit of Jackson County. This comes after a formal request by the County Legislature six weeks ago, citing concerns about best management practices, legal and professional services contracts and proper controls over other expenditures.
Galloway’s office is just beginning to outline the scope of the audit and wants to hear residents’ concerns about how county government is performing for them.
“I’m aware of some of the concerns that the legislators of Jackson County have, but I also want to hear from citizens,” Galloway told The Examiner today.
Citizens can call the auditor’s whistleblower hotline at 1-800-347-8597 or go to www.auditor.mo.gov and use that site to fill out a form or send an email. The auditor’s office also accepts concerns anonymously at auditor.mo.gov/hotline.
County Executive Frank White Jr. had asked county legislators to formally request the audit, and though legislators cited their specific concerns, they acknowledged that the auditor would be free to look wherever she sees fit.
That’s apparently the case. She’s conducting what’s called a performance audit – something the state auditor’s office apparently has never done for Jackson County as a whole – and will look at such things as compliance with state law and county ordinances as well as best management practices.
She acknowledged that some of the spending disputes between White and legislators are matters of policy – as well as a lawsuit currently in Circuit Court – and that much of that would be outside the scope of her work.
“We’re not here to resolve political infighting among different political groups. … I’m not interested in that,” she said.
Galloway said she’ll announce the scope of the audit later this year and then have a better idea about the timeline for completing it. Much of that, she said, depends on what she hears from citizens.
“Part of my job is not predetermine what this audit’s going to find,” she said.
White’s office issued a statement this morning thanking Galloway for taking up the audit and saying “... taxpayers deserve to know that we are being responsible stewards of their dollars.”
White and legislators have been battling over day-to-day, line-by-line control over much of the county budget, and legislators have taken White to court and won a judge’s order to back off on some of his moves. Still, that dispute has clouded much of the 2018 budget process, and the slow pace of the lawsuit suggests those issues won’t be clarified before the 2019 budget process gets going in earnest this fall.
Galloway acknowledged that her audit, though broader in scope that those line-item budget questions, also is unlikely to be available in time to help officials with the 2019 budget. Fieldwork for her audit begins later this year.