Apr 232014
 

Our current State Auditor claims to be a “taxpayer’s watchdog”, but it is clear that she simply isn’t doing the job. An example: the 2013 audit of the Department of Administrative Services – the state agency that has been at the center of the recent scandals – was only three pages long. Yes, a three page audit of an agency with a budget of nearly $100 million and some of the most important responsibilities in state government. Unsurprisingly, this three page long audit entirely missed the secret “hush money” and other scandals it should have found and addressed. Our taxpayer money is wasted because the State Auditor doesn’t do her job.

Here are a few of the specific things I will do differently:

  • Do Thorough Audits – The current State Auditor looks at only a small sample of financial transactions and only talks to top officials. Many problems are missed. As your State Auditor, I will conduct thorough audits with insightful digging, and will talk not only to management but also with a staff and former employees in order to ferret out problems and issues for further investigation.
  • Do Complete Audits – Iowa law requires that every audit address not just finances but also assess a government entity’s efficiency, effectiveness, and whether it operates in a business-like manner, yet the current State Auditor rarely does this. As your State Auditor, I will ask tough questions about spending and efficiency, and will require every unit of Iowa government to develop and report on real measures of program effectiveness.
  • Fight for Transparent Government – As your State Auditor every audit will assess the audited entity’s compliance with Open Records and Open Meetings law. In addition, the State Auditor’s audit findings and recommendations for improvement will be easily found on the Internet, along with periodic updates allowing citizens to see how quickly recommendations are being implemented. 
  • Listen to Iowans – As your State Auditor I will continue visiting with Iowans across the state, seeking information on what is working well and what is not working so well in Iowa government. I strongly believe that taxpayers have a good sense of which programs and services are being run efficiently and effectively, and which are not. A good State Auditor needs to listen to this wisdom and integrate it into their decisions concerning where to put resources, and I will do so.
 Posted by at 7:51 am
Mar 182014
 

Six pages. Yes, six pages. That’s the length of the State Auditor’s audit report on the Iowa Department of Administrative Services – an agency with a total budget of close to $100 million – for FY 2012. Really only three pages, since one page is a cover, one page is blank, and one page is a list of staff who worked on the audit. No mention of employees being fired because of politics, and no mention of secret “hush money” payments paid to these fired employees. And of course the audit report lacks the legally required assessments of how efficiently or effectively the agency is being run, and whether it is operating according to law and in a businesslike manner. Just some minor points about financial reporting and capital asset inventories. Clearly…Iowa’s State Auditor is simply not doing the job.

 Posted by at 11:20 am
Dec 302013
 

We Iowans work hard for our money. We know that we need to pay taxes for schools, roads, and all the things government does. But we expect that government will be good stewards of our money, be efficient, achieve desired results, follow the law, and operate in a business-like manner. Indeed, our elected legislators have given the State Auditor the responsibility to make sure our expectations are being met, and to recommend solutions if they are not. Put another way, the State Auditor is required by law to every year look at all state government agencies and make sure they are being accountable to the taxpayers.

Unfortunately, we have a problem. Our current State Auditor was appointed by Governor Branstad when the elected State Auditor resigned. She has little experience watching over public money. She was a county auditor – an office very different from State Auditor – until Secretary of State Matt Schultz appointed her as his deputy. Her audits focus only on financial management, ignoring her legal responsibility to address critical topics such as efficiency, effectiveness, compliance with the law, and operating in a business-like manner. She simply isn’t doing the job. Our current State Auditor claims to be a “taxpayer’s watchdog”, but she is failing to do some of the most important parts of the State Auditor’s job.

Jon Neiderbach will change this. Jon has dozens of years of experience digging for problems, never shying away from uncomfortable questions or political hot potatoes. He worked for nearly 15 years providing clear, non-partisan analysis of government budgets and policies for Iowa legislators. Then he spent 14 years working as a management analyst in the Department of Human Services, helping use technology to improve Iowa’s child support system and making sure folks who got benefits they were not entitled to pay them back. Jon was asked to work on Governor Vilsack’s Redesign Research Team, helping to evaluate proposals for government redesign, and in 2008 he was asked to work in Governor Culver’s Rebuild Iowa Office.

Jon knows that being a REAL “taxpayer’s watchdog” means holding government accountable: as Iowa law requires, every annual audit must review efficiency, effectiveness, compliance with the law, and operation in a business-like manner. Jon knows that being a REAL “taxpayer’s watchdog” means – as Iowa law requires – identifying solutions to problems discovered by these audits. Jon knows being a REAL “taxpayer’s watchdog” means understanding that inefficiency, ineffectiveness, violations of law, and unbusiness-like practices are as much a threat to Iowans as problems with financial management. Jon knows that we need a State Auditor with proven experience working independent of politics, who will ignore party affiliation in the performance of their job.

Jon Neiderbach will be a Chief Accountability Officer for Iowa government. Please join our campaign!

 Posted by at 11:24 am
Oct 312013
 

The State Auditor is the “taxpayers’ watchdog”, responsible for finding situations where government is wasteful or inefficient, and sounding the alarm when programs aren’t delivering. The State Auditor’s job is to make government accountable. But our recent State Auditors have not examined the quality of management, the efficiency of operations, or the effectiveness of programs. They have allowed theft and fraud to go undiscovered for years, using clearly inadequate auditing procedures. And to make matters worse, recent State Auditors have gotten involved in politics: they have become spokespersons for Governor Branstad’s policies and rubber stamps for the political cronies he has appointed. As State Auditor I will ferret out bad management and inefficiency and carefully measure program effectiveness. I’ll look at the value taxpayers get for government spending. When there is a problem I’ll keep taxpayers informed. In short, I will be Iowa’s Chief Accountability Officer, a REAL “taxpayers’ watchdog”. If you have any questions or suggestions please call me at (515) 984-0021, or send me an email at realtaxpayerswatchdog@gmail.com. Thank you for your consideration. I hope to earn your support and your vote.

 Posted by at 1:15 pm