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In hard times, government watchdogs are often first to get the ax

Posted by   /  November 10, 2017  /  No Comments

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States have significantly fewer people dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud and abuse than they did when the recession started

By Mike Maciag | Governing

The Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General is tasked with keeping track of more than $30 billion a year in state spending. But as the state budget grows larger and more complex, the auditor’s resources keep shrinking. The agency incurred sharp funding reductions for a few years starting in fiscal 2010, and next year’s state budget calls for another cut of nearly 8 percent. The department’s staff is smaller by about a third than it was a decade ago.

Pennsylvania is not unique. At a time when governments are trying to get a better grip on their finances, many states have cut funds for auditing and oversight. Such positions were sometimes among the first casualties in the aftermath of the recession. “I find it interesting that there is this nationwide trend of cutting back on the independent watchdog’s budget,” says Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. “I’ve yet to find a taxpayer or a legislator who doesn’t want less waste, fraud and abuse in state government.”

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