Audits in the News: Economic development and water resources

Audits in the News: Economic development and water resources

We here in the audits division are proud that the work we do makes a difference. Our work attracts the attention of the legislature, statewide news sources, and even local media outlets. Local media coverage of our audits is just another way we communicate with the people of Oregon about the work that we’re doing on their behalf to make government better. This is part of an ongoing series of posts rounding up recent instances in which the Oregon Audits Division makes a cameo in the local news.

The work of the Oregon Audits Division continues to be highlighted in the media, with reporters helping to explain and clarify audit findings of complex government topics. This time around, one audit team examined Business Oregon, the state’s primary economic development agency, and identified ways the agency could improve the evaluation and transparency of various incentives and loan programs. Another team pointed out how the Oregon Water Resources Department could benefit from long-term planning, an enhanced focus on groundwater protection, and better data collection and analysis.

You can read the entire Business Oregon audit here and the Oregon Water Resources Department audit here.

Willamette Week – New Audit Finds State’s Economic Development Agency Gives Lots of Goodies But Fails to Measure Results

Read the story here.

“Oregon Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins today released her audits division’s look at Business Oregon, the state’s economic development agency. Business Oregon seeks to recruit and retain businesses and help existing operations grow through a variety of grants, loans and tax breaks. The agency will hand out $680 million in the 2015-17 budget cycle, with the biggest chunk of that going to property tax breaks for Intel’s research and manufacturing facilities in Washington County.”

Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) – Audit: More Transparency Needed For Oregon’s Economic Incentives

Read the story here.

“Oregon’s agency devoted to economic development should provide more transparency about how its incentives are being used. That’s one of the findings of an audit of Business Oregon released Monday by the Oregon Secretary of State’s office.”

The Register-Guard – Audit highlights problems with Oregon’s tax and cash incentive programs for businesses

Read the story here.

“Oregon should work to ensure better return on investment and transparency in the $340 million a year in tax breaks and cash incentives it provides to businesses, a new audit from the Secretary of State’s office concludes. The audit, released Monday, examines Business Oregon, the state’s economic development agency, and the incentives it provides directly to private companies. Those sweeteners — including forgivable and low-interest loans, tax credits, and direct cash assistance — total $72.5 million a year.”

Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) – Audit Finds Problems At Oregon’s Water Resources Department

Read the story here.

“The agency in charge of managing Oregon’s water resources is being stretched to the limit. That’s one of the findings in a new audit from the Oregon Secretary of State’s office.”

The Bend Bulletin – State audit: Focus more on sustaining water

Read the story here.

“The Oregon Water Resources Department could better balance water rights with actions to restore streamflows, according to a new state audit. The agency also lacks the resources and strategic planning needed to guard against over-use and contamination of existing water supplies, the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office said. The office’s audit, released Thursday, called for the department to focus more on protecting groundwater, collecting data and planning long-term to prioritize efforts and resources.”

Portland Tribune – Audit faults water resources dept. data collection, analysis

Read the story here.

“An audit released Thursday by the Secretary of State’s Office calls on the state’s Water Resources Department to improve its long-term planning and management of Oregon’s water supply. The department is responsible for allocating water rights, enforcing the state’s water laws and other aspects of water management. It’s overseen by a citizen commission.”

Audits in the News Featured

Governing RePost: Why an unmowed Capitol lawn could be a sign of good management

When groundskeepers on Washington state’s Capitol campus were asked how they would improve efficiency, they came up with an unorthodox idea: Stop cutting the grass.

…starting this spring, workers got the go-ahead to test the idea at a few out-of-the-way places around Olympia’s state government complex. In some fields, the grass is now knee-high. In others, the crews replaced grass with a special mix of durable wildflowers.

Daniel C. Vock outlines a unique and innovative approach to Lean management and sustainability being put to the test by our neighbors up in Olympia, WA. Gov. Inslee reached out to state employees throughout Washington for ideas on how to streamline operations and improve efficiency at all levels of government.

Capitol groundskeepers had several ideas on how to reduce water usage and focus crew efforts on more sustainable land management practices – everything from mulching trees to installing two beehives on the Capitol campus to help pollinate the flowers. These efforts even led to collaborations with local volunteer groups to care for a campus vegetable garden that donates vegetables to a local food bank.

Read more here about the great work being done by the Washington state Capitol grounds crew.

Want to read more about Lean management principles? Check out what the Lean Enterprise Institute has to say about it (though, honestly, there are numerous places to find information on Lean management).

Accountability and Media Featured

Audit Scotland Reblog: A stronger code for new auditors

Two years ago we recognised that if we wanted to deliver a world class public audit service, we’d need to revise and improve the code. The challenge was to produce a code grounded in legislation and auditing standards but which could also be applied by auditors to the wider scope of  public audit  and the developing approach to the audit of Best Value.

Audit Scotland writes about revisiting and revising their auditing code to best create the audit of ‘Best Value’ in this insightful post. The revised code will make it easier for financial and performance auditors to work together, and requires auditors to provide conclusions on ‘financial sustainability, financial management, governance and transparency, and value for money.’

Read more at A stronger new code for auditors — Audit Scotland

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