Commission approves nine audit topics

Members of the bipartisan Legislative Audit Commission approved nine topics today that Legislative Auditor James Nobles and his staff will dig into in the coming months.

The larger evaluation topics on the list include:

Councils of Color

Forest Management

Managed Care Organizations’ Administrative Expenses

Medical Services in State Correctional Facilities

MnDOT Pavement Selection Process

The smaller topics include:

Administration of Unclaimed Property

Agricultural Commodity Councils

MnDOT Noise Barrier Policy

State Employee Union “Fair Share” Calculations

Commission chair Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, said the list was narrowed from more than 100 recommendations.

“I’m happy with the result,” Reinert said. “I think we have a good balance in terms of diversity and scope.”

But one commission member said he found it “highly unusual” that there was some lobbying against an evaluation of Agriculture Commodity Councils, which the legislative Auditor hasn’t taken a look at in more than 30 years.

Rep. Andrew Falk, DFL-Murdock, said the farmers who fund the councils want to know if their money is being well spent.

“If their books are clean, and if they’re doing a good job, they have nothing to fear,” Falk said.

Bruce Kleven, a legal advisor for some of the commodity councils, said there were questions raised about the jurisdiction of the Office of the Legislative Auditor.

“We understood that the auditor reviewed taxpayer money, and programs and agencies that are funded by taxpayer dollars, Kleven said. “They made it clear in the hearing today that this is a programmatic review, which is different than a financial review.”