Legislation Allowing Performance Audits At State Colleges And Universities Passes Ohio House
HB 384 designed to increase efficiency, lower costs of earning a degree
January 27, 2016
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During today’s session, the Ohio House of Representatives passed House Bill 384, legislation that gives the Auditor of State the authority to conduct performance audits of state universities, as well as state, community and technical colleges. The legislation is geared at increasing efficiency and identifying cost-saving measures in Ohio’s higher education system.

“It is time that we provide our colleges and universities with this powerful tool to help students get the most out of taxpayer and tuition dollars,” said Rep. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster), who cosponsored the bill with Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Worthington).

HB 384 is an accountability measure providing oversight on approximately $1.9 billion of general revenue spending in the state’s higher education system. The potential cost-saving components of the bill come at a time when the price of earning a degree continues to rise for Ohio’s college students.

Since 2011, performance audits of school districts have uncovered about $77 million in potential savings. The same improvements are true for audits of state agencies, including identifying $11.6 million in savings on operating expenses at the Ohio Department of Transportation.

“Simply put, performance audits are a best practice when taxpayer money is involved,” Rep. Duffey said. “Nobody likes being questioned about the way they spend money, but it’s still the right thing to do. In passing this legislation, we are putting Ohio’s colleges and universities on notice that we expect them to be frugal and efficient with our taxpayer dollars.”

Under current law, state colleges and universities are not included in statutory requirements for performance audits.  Ohio’s current requirement for performance audits of state agencies is a fairly recent development, having been sponsored by Rep. Tim Schaffer when he was in the Ohio Senate in 2011. HB 384 would broaden that scope to include colleges and universities.

Under HB 384, a performance audit of a state institution of higher learning would count as one of the four performance audits that the State Auditor is required to conduct every two years. In addition, a university that has been audited would be required to accept comments from interested parties and make them publicly available.

The bill is supported by Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost. If signed into law, Ohio would join seven other states that conduct higher education performance audits. The bill now awaits consideration in the Ohio Senate.

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