OKLAHOMA CITY – During his first term in the state Senate, one of Sen. James Leewright’s top priorities was helping create better oversight and accountability of Oklahoma’s largest state agencies. This past session, Leewright was the principal Senate author of House Bill 1690, known as the Independent Comprehensive Performance Audit Act, to require independent performance audits of the twenty top appropriated agencies. The bill passed out of the House but then Sen. Leewright worked with Senate Pro Tempore Mike Schulz and other legislators in merging legislation to come up with HB 2311.
HB 2311 created the Agency Performance and Accountability Commission to conduct independent performance audits once every four years of Oklahoma’s twenty highest appropriated state agencies. They may audit other executive branch agencies as well. They will hold their first meeting on Thursday, Dec. 7 at 1pm in Room 412C at the state Capitol.
“I’m pleased that this important legislation was signed into law earlier this year and the commission is ready to get to work to ensure our state agencies are working as cost effectively and efficiently as possible,” said Leewright, R-Bristow. “It’s not just a matter of slashing budgets as most agencies have seen significant cuts in the last decade. This commission will look closely at agency programs and services to see which ones actually benefit taxpayers and which ones need to be eliminated. I look forward to getting their first report.”
The Commission can contract through a bidding process with a private company, nonprofit organization, or academic institution as well as the Office of State Auditor and Inspector to assist with the audit. Audit results are to be submitted to the Governor and legislative leaders as well as be posted at documents.ok.gov. Audited agencies must implement the commission’s recommendations and they will be reviewed within a year of the original audit. The Commission will then submit a second report detailing the agency’s implementation efforts.
“It’s important that the Legislature take a long-term view of the cost of state government and the delivery and efficiency of state services,” said Sen. Schulz, R-Altus. “The Agency Performance and Accountability Commission will provide lawmakers with a lot of valuable information on state budget trends and best-practices from the private sector. All of that data will help lawmakers make more informed decisions when setting budgeting priorities.”