Wednesday, February 9, 2011

State Auditor Announces Educational Accountability and Anti-Corruption Legislation

Hector Balderas
On Wednesday, State Auditor Hector Balderas announced a comprehensive anti-corruption legislation package, which includes six bills he says will enhance his office's ability to protect New Mexico taxpayers from financial fraud, waste, and abuse in government.

He campaigned in 2010 on the premise that all public monies have to be accounted for at every level of government including education.

“The Jemez Mountain Schools embezzlement case in 2009 demonstrated that every effort must be made to hold public schools accountable," said Baleras in a news release. "Sen. [Cynthia] Nava’s bill provides my office more auditors to review our schools’ finances and keep more money in our classrooms.”

Sen. Cynthia Nava
Senate Education Chairwoman Senator Cynthia Nava has asked for the state's Public Education Department to transfer their inspector general and auditor positions to Baleras' office.

The six bills introduced today include:

· SB 423, sponsored by Senator Cynthia Nava: This bill transfers positions from the Public Education Department’s (PED) Inspector General to the Office of the State Auditor (OSA). During the 2010 interim, the Legislative Education Study Committee endorsed the transfer of these positions to the OSA to provide further audit oversight of both public schools and institutions of higher education.

· HB 424, sponsored by Rep. Mimi Stewart: This bill would make the State Auditor’s successful “At Risk Program” a statutory requirement. The program designates government agencies “at risk for fraud, waste, and abuse” if they fail to submit timely audits. The bill also requires that an agency be designated at-risk for fraud, waste and abuse if it receives a disclaimer of opinion or an adverse opinion on its annual financial audit.

· HB 411, sponsored by Rep. Luciano Varela: This bill requires notifications to the Secretary of Finance and Administration if a state agency, state institution, or municipality fails to submit timely audits or financial reports.

· HB 416, sponsored by Rep. Al Park: This bill makes it a crime to intentionally deceive, mislead or obstruct an audit, special audit, examination or investigation conducted by the State Auditor. The bill makes the crime a misdemeanor and also provides for civil penalties.

· HB 439, sponsored by Rep. Cynthia Nava: This bill provides that money or property obtained as a result of an embezzlement committed against a New Mexico school district or public school is subject to forfeiture.

· HB 425, sponsored by Rep. Mimi Stewart: This bill appropriates $200,000 to pay salaries and expenses of the State Auditor. This bill will help sustain audit resources that have been impacted by severe budget cuts to the OSA.

Government Scorecard

A listing of New Mexico governmental agencies determined to be at risk because their financial & compliance audits have not been completed and submitted. The list is updated periodically; the date of the occurrence is at the bottom of this document.

At Risk/ Non-Responsive Designations

A listing of New Mexico governmental agencies determined to be at risk that did not respond to the OSA's November 2, 2009 deadline to submit a status report. As of the date specified no status reports have been submitted by for these agencies. (Click here to open document)

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