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Adler-Buono Bill For Accountability In State Agencies Approved

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 approved by the Senate today by a vote of 38-0.

“State government can no longer look the other way when it comes to fiscal recklessness and runaway spending,” said Senator Adler, D-Cherry Hill. “We all recognize that we have to do more with less, and that we have to make an efficient government a top priority. By asking the Auditor to root out government waste, we will be able to have more accountability for the taxpayers’ dollar.”

“This year more than ever, we’re seeing the price of government waste,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “Programs have gotten too big, too fast, without demanding results that really matter to the taxpayers of New Jersey, and as a result, we find ourselves in almost a perpetual budget crisis. We need to conduct constant reviews, to ensure that government stays on track and the end result – the benefit to the taxpayer of New Jersey – is our primary focus.”

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.

“Looking at receipts after the money’s already been spent doesn’t help us reign in waste in the system,” said Senator Adler. “By allowing the Auditor to be more proactive, we can divert the cash flow midstream, and put tax dollars into programs that are proven winners for New Jersey’s residents.”

“In recent years, we’ve faced many substantial budget deficits that have required us to take drastic actions to close,” said Senator Buono, who sits on the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. “Before we ask taxpayers to contribute more of their hard-earned money for government services, we should provide assurances that government agencies are serving as responsible custodians of the taxpayers’ trust. This bill will provide those assurances and offer up a new model of government efficiency in the State of New Jersey.”

The bill now heads to the Assembly for a concurrent vote on amendments, made on the Senate floor in May, to expand the scope of agencies the Auditor could review, as well as provide legislative back-up, in the form of the Joint Budget and Oversight Committee, to the Auditor’s recommendations.

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