An auditor with an eagle eye

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 1 2014 6:32 p.m. MST

JD: You’ll have to go poll the public and government agencies to find that out. I think I’m popular from the public’s perspective because I’m doing the job they expect. They expect somebody who’s going to look, who’s going to ask the hard questions, who’s going to challenge the status quo and try and make sure that we’re using tax money the best way we can. I want to clarify for the public that the office doesn’t audit their taxes, we audit government agencies. They’re much more relieved when they hear that. It’s the job of the state auditor and of the Office of the State Auditor to look at government for them and let them know what government’s doing so they can do a better job of overseeing government.

DN: Communication is key?

JD: We want to make sure the public understands clearly what we are seeing so they can make better decisions about what to do about our findings and recommendation. One of the things we did a little differently this year is we altered how we announced the federal-funds compliance budget to the public. Rather than give them minutiae that gets them lost we called out a couple of key points in our press release. One we called out was the percentage of federal expenditures by state government relative to total expenditures. That figure was 26 percent. We thought it was important for folks to understand that number so they can debate back and forth whether 26 percent is too big, is it about right, is it too little? And in turn give that input to their policy-makers.

DN: Any surprises after a year?

JD: I’ve been surprised and pleased at the dedication and talent within the office. They’re passionate about being auditors and want to do a good job at what they do. Their dedication to serving as that watchdog for the citizens and taxpayers is inspiring. The work is difficult and demands a high level of skill, care and attention, but they are committed and I really appreciate their dedication. I hope that taxpayers understand that the members of this office are their eyes and ears on government spending and behavior.

DN: Will you run for a second term in 2016?

JD: The answer I always gave in the House is if I feel like I’m adding value then I’ll run again. But at some point it’s somebody else’s turn. This is not a career. This is an effort to improve the oversight, and then it’s somebody else’s opportunity. Continual change and improvement is critical.

Email: benson@deseretnews.com

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