from the inbox last week:
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale today said that during his first six months in office he has made progress to better serve taxpayers and bring the Department of Auditor General into the 21st Century by improving technology, reducing expenditures and streamlining the audit process.
“The first six months presented some challenges, and because of budget limitations we had to make some tough financial and operational decisions,” DePasquale said. “However, we’ve made significant progress toward fulfilling my pledge to make the Pennsylvania Department of Auditor General one of the most forward-thinking, responsible and effective state agencies of its type.
“Cutting costs and improving procedures are important, but eliminating the ‘but-we’ve-always-done-it-this-way’ mantra is helping the department move forward. We are not there yet, but we are definitely on track.”DePasquale said that since January, the department has:
* reduced travel expenses by $128,000 in fiscal year 2012-13 compared to 2011-12 by allowing auditors to work from home rather than requiring daily travel to an audit site, planning audit assignments based upon proximity to an auditor’s home, and reducing the department’s vehicle fleet by nearly 40 percent, from 244 vehicles in January 2013 to 151 in July 2013;
* eliminated a backlog of 1,500 audits in the first 90 days;
* started implementing a multi-year information technology plan by replacing computers and equipment auditors use, some of which was older than a decade;
* created a long-term plan for fiscal stability that factors in mandated cost increases for retirement contributions, health care and workers’ compensation;
* re-organized the department to reduce administrative layers, allowing for more flexibility and sharing of staff and work assignments to create significant cost savings and efficiencies;* began developing a risk-based approach to auditing;
* began developing an improved training program to increase staff skills;
* began moving to the SAP accounting and personnel management software that is used by most other state agencies;
* began distributing audits electronically and developing a method to use electronic working papers to improve efficiency and make auditors more mobile;
* divested the department’s duplicating operation that is estimated to save at least $100,000 per year; and
* consolidated offices to reduce the cost incurred for leased office space, resulting in a total reduction in real estate rentals of $320,000 in fiscal year 2012-13 compared to 2011-12.