TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators John H. Adler and Barbara Buono which would give the State Auditor the authority to conduct performance reviews of State agencies to ensure that government is held accountable for its spending was unanimously approved by the Senate State Government Committee today.
“The public needs to know that their government is working on their behalf,” said Senator Adler, D-Cherry Hill. “Reports of corruption and abuse not only mock the public trust, but waste taxpayer dollars. We need to know what programs work, and what programs serve only as patronage pits for the politically connected, so that we can demand maximum efficiency from New Jersey’s agencies.”
“New Jersey’s taxpayers are concerned that we’re not making the best use of their tax dollars, and by taking a good look at the books, I’m sure we can do better,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “In these tough economic times, we need to ensure that State resources are stretched as far as they’ll go, and that we make the most of every penny collected in taxes. Performance reviews will give us the insight to demand maximum efficiency from government in the Garden State.”
The bill, S-1745, would require the State Auditor to conduct performance review audits on ongoing State programs conducted by agencies and departments under State Government, in accordance with generally-accepted accounting principles held by the United States General Accounting Office. Currently, the Auditor is limited to conducting post-audits, taking into account State spending actions only after they’ve already taken place. The bill would expand the Auditor’s focus, and require the Auditor to report their findings to the Legislature, in order to help eliminate waste and improve efficiency.
“Through this bill, we can identify failing programs and redirect funds to be put to a better use,” said Senator Adler. “Currently, we’re only alerted to government waste after the dollars are already out the door. Through this legislation, we can step in, mid-program, and reappropriate State funds to programs that make a difference in the lives of New Jersey taxpayers.”
“We’re looking at a very bleak budget picture this year in New Jersey, and we have to make the most of the tax revenue we collect, to decrease the added burden on the State’s residents this year,” said Senator Buono, who sits on the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. “We cannot come to taxpayers, hat in hand, when we don’t have the assurances that government is acting as efficiently as possible. Working with the State Auditor, we can identify and redesignate wasted funds, to take some of the pressure off increasing taxes to balance our budget.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.