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Oklahoma official says funds lacking for audits

Oklahoma official says funds lacking for audits

By Ron Jenkins - AP Writer
Published: March 18, 2009




The man tapped by the governor to be the watchdog over spending from the federal stimulus package says his agency is facing a budget squeeze complicated by new auditing requirements to meet federal guidelines.

State Auditor and Inspector Steve Burrage said no federal funds have been designated for Oklahoma to pay for auditing stimulus spending by state agencies and counties.

Burrage said Gov. Brad Henry wants "real time” audits to make sure any noncompliance issues are addressed and there is "no fraud, waste or abuse” in stimulus spending.

The process would differ from audits that discover problems "after the fact,” he said.

He said his office will take on the task, but he does not know how he can pay for the manpower it will take to do the audits.

Sixteen states were selected to get federal funding for the stimulus audits, but Oklahoma was not one of them, Burrage said.

He said his office is already facing problems because the percentage of funds it gets from the Legislature to audit counties has been dropping, and most rural counties do not have the money to pay for annual state audits of county operations.

Burrage is seeking a $3 million increase in funding for his agency this year and says he would like to get supplemental funding for the stimulus audits.

He said it will be a few days before he has an estimate on how much money the audits of stimulus spending will cost.

The National Governors Association is seeking to get Congress to appropriate extra money for the audits, but it is not a done deal, Burrage said.

"We don’t care where it comes from,” Burrage said. "We intend to fulfill the function that the governor has asked us to do, no matter what.”

Meanwhile, the Senate adopted a resolution to require every state agency that receives stimulus money to submit a plan for the expenditure of such funds to legislative budget leaders. The proposal now goes to the House.

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