Panel approves more scrutiny by auditor

A legislative committee agreed Wednesday to give the Legislature’s auditor expanded authority to audit or investigate certain entities that receive public funds.

The House and Governmental Affairs Committee endorsed House Bill 409 which covers quasi-public agencies or bodies that receive public funds from any source.

Under HB409, the auditor could audit the public funds at his discretion for financial accountability, compliance with state law and evaluation of performance.

State Treasurer John Kennedy said the state needs some way of insuring that taxpayer dollars are being spent by the groups for the purposes sought.

Kennedy said he’s encountered numerous organizations that do not want to be held accountable. “I’m not saying these organizations are bad organizations,” said Kennedy. “We just know they are spending taxpayer money...If it’s not going to the people you intended to help then we have a problem.”

While the groups have outside auditors, Kennedy said, their work “leaves a lot to be desired.”

Legislative auditor Daryl Purpera said his office’s auditors have met resistance from certain groups.

“If anybody is getting state dollars they should be subject to audit,” said state Rep. Johnny Berthelot, R-Gonzales.