Registered Republicans gathered Thursday night at the Northeast Technology Center Claremore campus as State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones emphasized his suggestion of “needs-based” budgeting to allow for Oklahoma to be more fiscally responsible in the upcoming year and beyond.
As the former Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman, Jones made a successful run for state auditor in 2010. He described his first two years in office as a time of reorganizing and agressive planning.
“In my first year, I met with all of the state audit managers and said ‘I want two things. First, I want a list of exactly how far behind we are (on county audits), and within 30 days I want a plan on how we’re going to get caught up.’”
Jones said after entering office, he realized there were some Oklahoma counties that had not been audited in six years.
“In 2009-10, the state auditor’s office had conducted only 69 audits in two years, while regulations call for the state to conduct 77 a year,” he said. “So we put together an aggressive plan to do 231 audits in two years, and in my second year of office, I signed the 232nd county audit, virtually eliminating the backlog.”
During those two years, Jones’ office began an impressive transformation. The manager in charge of investigative audits worked to become a certified fraud examiner, the office added a former FBI agent, former Air Force inspector general, former postal inspector.
“We just continue to build and build. We went from having 10 CPAs to 20 CPAs,” said Jones. “We decreased the number of administrative people and increased our efficiency. In 2011-12 we did more audits and built $1.2 million more than the previous year.”
Jones recommends needs-based budgeting, a modified version of “zero-based” budgeting that will help reduce state spending. The “needs-based” is a similar concept to one President Jiimmy Carter proposed during his term.
“We need to get away from history-based budgeting,” he said. “The question is not what did you get last year, but what do you truly need? This is a great way to reduce the size of government, but do it in a logical systematic way to get the money where it’s needed.”
Jones said the model will continue to work as Oklahoma government becomes more financially responsible.
“I spent most of my college career studying accounting and auditing. I like what I’m doing, and I feel very honored and privileged to do it,” he said. “I feel a strong obligation everyday I go into work to help straighten out our government, to leave it a better place for the next generation.”