Audit: Spending rises on La. boards & commissions

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s effort to limit the costs of Louisiana’s governing boards and commissions hasn’t trimmed their spending, according to a report released Monday.

The review by Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s office shows Louisiana has nearly the same number of boards and commissions as when Jindal took office in 2008.

Spending by the boards and commissions has increased by one-fifth, the audit said.

The auditor’s report says, as of June, the state had 485 boards and commissions created by law or executive order. That compares to 484 such panels in 2008. The high point was in 2004, when 513 boards and commissions were on the books.

At least 257 of those panels pay per diems, salaries or travel for board members. Those costs totaled $7 million in the 2013 budget year, up $1.6 million from a year earlier, the report said.

At one point, Jindal ordered a few dozen of the boards and commissions under his control to stop spending money on per diems, the money given to members for attending meetings. But auditors said there were too many exceptions for that to have much value.

“Because of the exemptions, the executive orders had little or no fiscal impact,” the report says.

Since he’s been in office, Jindal has pushed legislation to eliminate inactive or underperforming state boards and commissions. But even as those efforts have removed some panels, lawmakers and the governor have agreed to create new ones.

In an emailed response late Monday, Kyle Plotkin, a spokesman for the governor’s office, said: “Since 2008, we have significantly reduced the size of state government and also streamlined the functions of state government by eliminating more than 100 boards and commissions that were outdated, inactive, or duplicative. Our efforts are continuing next session with additional bills that will help us remove more ineffective boards.”

Purpera’s office said since its last annual review of the boards and commissions on the books, 19 panels were removed but another 12 were created. The audit says Louisiana has more boards and commissions than any other Southern state.