Oregon does an awful lot of state audits, and “awful” is what they often find.
The latest audit examines the state agency charged with improving access to affordable housing. What it found: Oregon Housing and Community Services is doing an awful job.
The agency lacks basic data to make decisions. Short of state employees using tax dollars to buy themselves trips to the Greek Isles, that’s about as bad as it gets for a state agency. The lack of basic data makes it difficult even to evaluate the agency’s performance.
What’s more, the audit found, OCHS has a communication problem between management and staff. Workloads are managed poorly, too, and many agency policies and procedures are “absent, outdated or weak.”
Problems at OHCS are nothing new. In 2015, state Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, and state Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, raised questions about the agency’s use of funds. The state had created a document recording fee in 2009, which generated about $59 million for affordable housing. But the state had only spent about half of it. The other half was in limbo.
The director of OHCS pledged to do better at the time. Following the recent audit, the new director of the agency pledged to do better.
Do you know who else pledged to do better?
The Oregon Department of Human Services pledged to do better after officials at the agency ignored warnings of child abuse at state-licensed foster homes.
The Oregon Energy Department pledged to do better after the incompetence with the state’s business energy tax credit program.
The Oregon Health Authority pledged to do better after hundreds of millions were wasted in the failed Cover Oregon health care marketplace.
The Oregon Department of Transportation pledged to do better after officials provided bad information that crashed a deal between Democrats and Republicans to create a statewide transportation package.
It’s awful that the list could go on.
Are Oregon’s legislators paying attention? Is Gov. Kate Brown? State government should stop trying to pass new legislation to micromanage Oregon business and concentrate on creating basic competence in state government.