Hoffer rolls up his sleeves: UPDATED with comments from Our Auditor

Note from jvwalt — I had the chance to interview Doug Hoffer about his initial list of audits, which was nicely summarized by Sue Prent. I’ll add Hoffer’s comments in italics below, and also after the jump. To begin with, he wanted to point out that these are not “financial audits,” which are now done by an outside firm; these are “performance audits,” which try to determine whether a program is achieving its goals and spending its money wisely.

State Auditor, Doug Hoffer, announced today that the office has launched four audits representing its most immediate priorities; among them:

Department of Corrections:

Correct Care Solutions…for verification of cost and performance consistent with the terms of the contract. …the current three-year contract is (for) $53 million.

This is the contract to provide health care services to prison inmates. Hoffer: “I have no reason to believe there’s a problem, but with a contract of this size it never hurts to take a look.”

Agency of Transportation:

(two large contracts to be identified in the planning phase)

The questions? Were they completed on-time, within budget, and did the contractor “meet the performance specifications.”

Two large-scale AOT contracts will be chosen, as something of a representative sample. Hoffer says such audits have “not been done in some time.”

Agency of Administration’s Workers’ Compensation and Injury Prevention Program: The Auditor’s office will organize and review data related to worker’s claims over the past five years in order to

…identify trends and evaluate whether the Program has focused its resources on preventing the most common causes of claims. The amount paid in claims in FY12 was $7.3 million.

Hoffer notes that this is not an audit of workers’ comp itself, but of the state’s injury-prevention and education programs, to see if they are producing results and if there’s anything more that can be done.

State-Issued Cell Phones:Are existiing state-issued phones being “underused,” and where do efficiency opportunities exist that might reduce the cost? (“about $2 million in FY12”)

… we will engage with Buildings & General Services, which manages the cell phone contracts.

Hoffer: “We know in our own lives how challenging it is to find a plan that makes sense. With so many state employees now having cellphones, do they all need them? Are they in the right plan for their needs? What about cellphones that are lost or damaged? A whole range of questions.

“When [our staff] tried to collect preliminary information on the cost of cellphone use in state government, there were several different estimates of the cost. So there’s no serious final number on this. So that’s one of the things we’re looking at, is whether the accounting on cellphones makes sense.”

A fifth area of focus will be prep work (“background research and analysis”) in anticipation of audits of the “Last Mile” telecom program, and the state’s investment in health information technology related to the health care initiative.

More detail on this after the jump.

All in all a valuable and ambitious slate of priorities.

With the uber-capable Hoffer at the helm, this is gonna be good!

All material below is by jvwalt, based on an interview with Doug Hoffer earlier today.

Regarding the prep work for audits of the “Last Mile” telecom program (the effort to bring broadband service to every Vermonter) and health IT, Hoffer says the two audits are so complex that he wants to take time to lay the groundwork so he can more effectively define the parameters of an audit. “The worst thing you can do is tackle a job like that without determining a scope of work with specific objectives.” Expect those two audits to be launched later this year.

You can also expect more audits of IT contracts in the future, since this has been a problematic area for state government.

Finally, it’s now possible to keep track of audits in progress on the Auditor’s website. For each audit currently underway, you’ll see a start date and a projected completion date. Those end dates are set conservatively; if anything, the reports should be done earlier.

Checking the webpage now, I see that the workers’ comp and cellphone audits will be first across the finish line, with projected completions in June. The AOT and Corrections healthcare audits will be done by mid-summer.

Also, there’s one more audit listed for launch this summer with completion by early 2014: an audit of the state’s Sex Offender Registry. According to the webpage, this will be a follow-up to an audit done in 2010: “Due to the findings of that audit, a second audit is required.”

There’s one more piece of news from my conversation with Hoffer, which I will post in a separate diary later this evening or tomorrow morning.  

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

10 thoughts on “Hoffer rolls up his sleeves: UPDATED with comments from Our Auditor

  1. An auditor is doing audits? And evaluating performance on contracts?

    Doug? What?

    When are you going to start a health care initiative.

    And can you launch some partisan missives from your lofty perch?

  2. Shouldn’t Doug be sending out press releases about firearm legislation or attack Bernie for not ending Obama’s drone war or something?  That’s his job as auditor, right?

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