State Auditor Rob Sand visited Decorah Tuesday evening at the Lingonberry, to discuss his first nine months as State Auditor.
Sand began his address by noting, "Obviously this is a special place." Sand, a Decorah native, took office as State Auditor in January of this year. He added, "I've been having a lot of fun since January," a sentiment that was met warmly by the crowd.
The state auditor is responsible for performing annual financial audits of every department of the Government of Iowa, including state political subdivisions like counties, cities, and school districts. It also audits state agencies and investigates financial fraud. In addition to making a complete audit of each department in the state government, the Auditor is also responsible for providing guidelines for CPA firms performing individual audits.
In his town hall, Sand noted his commitment to giving efficiency recommendations with each state audit. He laid out a recent Public Innovation and Efficiency (PIE) program created by his office to help local and state governments increase efficiencies, save money, and provide more opportunities for communication with the public. The PIE Checklist, according to the State Auditor's website, "serves to guide Iowans as well as state and local governments on the steps they can take to save money and promote efficiency."
Government entities are encouraged to submit efficiency recommendations to the State Auditor's office, in order to promote efficiency by sharing information and money-saving recommendations. "We're looking for PIE recipes," said Sand. Adding, "If you know how to save money locally, we want to share that information."
During his town hall, Sand also spoke about his office's ongoing investigation into Iowa Medicaid. He noted the auditing report of Iowa Medicaid will be released in stages, "to make it more digestible for folks."
"Pretty much everybody in Iowa is on the program or knows someone on the program," said Sand. He added it's important to not let ideology get in the way of investigating facts. "We should care about learning the truth because we should care about having policy based on facts and not ideology."
Near the end of his town hall, Sand spoke about recent lawsuits related to misconduct by government employees, including settlement agreements regarding sexual harassment allegations involving former Iowa Finance Authority Director Dave Jamison.
Sand also spoke on the money paid by Iowans to cover former Gov. Terry Branstad's legal fees regarding a jury's verdict that found Branstad discriminated against former Iowa Worker's Compensation Commissioner Chris Godfrey because he's gay. The jury awarded Godfrey $1.5 million. The taxpayer cost to defend Brandstad is estimated at $2.4 million.
Sand is one of the five members on the state council that approves the state's litigation expenses. At the town hall at Lingonberry, he said he wouldn't approve any appeal costs related to Branstad's defense.