A bill that would require agency chief financial and executive officers to sign off on their agency’s yearly financial statements and attest to the accuracy of the information passed the House this week.
House Bill 1198 would require each state agency, board, commission, department or program in the executive branch of state government to report its fiscal year financial information to the state auditor and inspector within 60 days of the close of the fiscal year along with a signed attestation to the accuracy of the information from the chief financial officer and chief executive officer of the entity.
The measure also requires the chief executive officer of said entities to sign and attest to the accuracy of all financial statements. Failure to sign the required documents or making false claims for payment of public funds will be considered a felony crime punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 or two years in person, or both fine and imprisonment.
Many of you may remember that in 2017, the State Department of Health got into some trouble after its chief officers reported needing $30 million in emergency appropriations in order to remain solvent and pay the agency’s payroll. The agency later laid off almost 200 employees. It turned out the agency had the $30 million all along; it was just in a mislabeled fund agency heads were accused of setting up in order to hide the money from legislative oversight.
It turns out that many of our state agencies do not have processes in place to close and reconcile their books each year. This can result in costly audits if an agency is accused of misappropriating state money. This bill will require the agencies to report their financial information within a specified time period at the end of each fiscal year. By requiring the signatures of the chief financial and executive officers and their attestation to the truth of the information, this bill would hopefully prevent any other scenario like the one discovered at the Health Department.
The public deserves to know how their taxpayer dollars are being spent, and they deserve to have that information in a timely and accurate manner. This bill will help ensure that transparency.
In the meantime, if I can be of service to you, or you just want to share your ideas or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me on my cell phone at (918) 680-1218.
Avery Frix serves District 13 of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. He can be reached by phone at (405) 557-7302 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.