Auditor General DePasquale Highlights Progress in First Month

Auditor General DePasquale Highlights Progress in First Month
February 15 2013
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Harrisburg (February 15, 2013) – In his first month in office, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale today said he is already reducing costs, improving efficiency in the face of budget and technology changes.

“I said in my swearing-in speech that we would start by getting our own house in order and we are doing just that,” DePasquale said. “We’ve already made changes to printing practices that will save more than 3.3 million sheets of paper annually — that’s enough paper to line the PA Turnpike from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, twice.”

In the past month, the department began cutting operational costs and conducting a comprehensive review of its out-dated information technology infrastructure.

“We must implement these and other changes to meet our statutory responsibilities while dealing with tough economic realities and ever-changing technology,” DePasquale said.

Aside from reducing printing and paper cost, DePasquale highlighted a variety of actions to reduce costs and improve efficiency, including:

• Reducing the department’s fleet by 44 automobiles;
• Reducing travel expenses; 
• Reviewing all leases to identify additional efficiencies and cost reductions; and
• Eliminating the purchase of all hard-copy newspapers and the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

“While some of these cost-saving measures may seem small compared to the $28 billion state budget, it is our fiscal responsibility to operate as efficiently as possible, keeping in mind that we are the watchdog of the taxpayers’ money,” DePasquale said.

In recent years, the department reduced staff by 25 percent to stay within budget, but it can no longer hold off on critical technology investments. Some of the IT challenges include: 

• Upgrading seven- to 12-year-old computers used by auditors — an average of eight require extensive repairs each month;
• Developing the capacity to conduct electronic transactions with the state Treasury department — the Department of the Auditor General is the only state agency that submits payroll to the Treasury on paper and beginning in 2014, the Treasury will no longer accept paper-based transactions;
• Revising the audit tracking system which is out of date and forces a labor- and paper-intensive process that further reduces auditing abilities; and
• Upgrading administrative software for personnel management because the current system requires field staff, who make up the majority of the department, to mail paper leave slips and travel reimbursement forms to Harrisburg. Processing the paperwork takes approximately 206 hours per week — that is enough time to walk from Harrisburg to Ohio three-and-a-half times.

“Once we complete this technology review we will have a comprehensive IT strategic plan,” DePasquale said. “When I testify before the Senate and House appropriations committees next week I will provide additional details about our technology needs and request funding necessary to help bring the Department of the Auditor General in line with the agencies and organizations we are charged with auditing.”

The department will continue to search for cost savings and focus on providing quality audits that can help make all government operations more effective and efficient to save taxpayers money. 
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