House Speaker Says DHS Program Cuts Example of Why Agency Audits Needed

OKLAHOMA CITY – After Oklahoma Department of Humans Services (DHS) Executive Director Ed Lake announced earlier this week the agency will cut $30 million from agency programs that support foster children and elderly meals, House Speaker Charles McCall said the announcement is one reason his bill to audit agency budgets every four years is so important for taxpayers.

Speaker McCall authored House Bill 2311 this session, which would require the Legislative Services Bureau (LSB) to audit or contract with a third-party auditor to audit agency budgets every four years. The bill was signed by Gov. Mary Fallin and becomes effective on October 1, 2017.

Speaker McCall said DHS received a $53 million increase in the state appropriations for Fiscal Year 2018 the agency owes taxpayers an explanation for why it could afford the programs last year but cannot this year after receiving a large increase in funding.

“Frankly, I am perplexed as to why an agency that could afford these programs last year would claim it can no longer afford them this year after receiving a $53 million increase from taxpayers,” said McCall, R-Atoka. “This is an agency that received $700 million in taxpayer dollars last session. We worked diligently during the legislative session to meet the needs of the agency as Director Lake requested, so this announcement to cut programs is surprising to say the least.”

McCall said every state agency owes citizens an explanation for the ways they spend taxpayer dollars.

“The burden must be on the agencies to justify their programs and spending so we can ensure that those dollars are used first and foremost for the agency’s core missions. DHS is an important agency that does a lot of good for the citizens of Oklahoma, but we should never be complacent, and our priority as public servants should always be to try to find ways to make government more cost effective and efficient, and to ensure the tax dollars entrusted to us by the people of Oklahoma are used wisely.”

As one of the largest state appropriated agencies, McCall said he believes the Department of Human Services should be among the first agencies to be audited by the LSB in 2018 to ensure DHS is making the best use of the money entrusted to it by the people of Oklahoma.