Businessman Examining Invoice With Magnifying Glass

Oregon legislators required with a state law that many larger agencies perform internal audits. But not all agencies are.

Legislators should review the law and ensure agencies comply.

It’s no wonder legislators required internal audits. It’s about accountability. Internal audits are just the kind of thing state agencies need to help them operate effectively. They improve transparency for the agency, legislators and the public. They are supposed to be an unbiased look at performance and can help an agency discover problems, risks and things holding them back from succeeding. Agencies without internal auditors can still review their own performance. Internal auditors are an extra layer of scrutiny.

For instance, the Department of State Lands is charged with managing state land and other resources dedicated to the Common School Fund for the benefit of K-12 education. How good a job is it doing? An internal auditor working at the department could help answer that question and others. But it didn’t have one last year.

We know because the Legislature requires an annual report on how well state government is complying with this state law. The new report came out Tuesday.

State lands is not the only department in that situation. The Oregon Department of Agriculture, Public Utility Commission, Water Resources Department, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and Oregon Housing and Community Services all did not have an internal audit function.

Why not? The agencies asked for funding for the positions, the Department of Administrative Services told us. The Legislature chose not to fund them.

Of course, it’s not that simple. The 2019 Legislature did also fund eight, new chief audit executive positions for other agencies. It turned out that agencies had trouble filling those positions.

The commitment to accountability with internal auditors is nice to have, but Oregon isn’t living up to it.

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