Give less aid to 'harassment' in audits, Schaefer tells Cabinet

March 09, 1991|By Peter Jensen | Peter Jensen,Annapolis Bureau of The Sun

ANNAPOLIS -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer has told his Cabinet staff to be less cooperative with legislative auditors who evaluate how well his agencies are managed.

In a memorandum to Cabinet secretaries issued yesterday, the governor cites a "growing and disturbing pattern of overzealousness" on the part of auditors and claims their work has fallen into "harassment or outright politicization."

The memorandum asks that agencies require auditors to provide a "written, detailed description of the records they desire."

That would likely hamper future audits. Both the governor and William S. Ratchford II, director of the agency that conducts the audits, asked state Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. yesterday to issue opinions clarifying the law.

"The auditing profession requires some degree of professional skepticism. That's what auditors do," said Mr. Ratchford. His Department of Fiscal Services employs 106 auditors, who write biennial reports on state agencies and private organizations that receive state funding.

The governor's complaint stems from an incident Tuesday in which an audit team "was found rifling files" in the secretary of state's office, according to the memo.

The governor also describes another occasion when auditors searched an employee's records to determine whether he was a blood relative of a Cabinet secretary.

Mr. Ratchford said the three-person audit team in the secretary of state's office arrived just 10 minutes before the office staff and had pulled records they had previously been reviewing under a procedure that had been discussed with the division's director.

The other incident involved someone named Evans who worked for J. Randall Evans, secretary of the Department of Economic and Employment Development. Auditors routinely check such connections, he said.

Paul C. Schurick, Mr. Schaefer's spokesman, said there had been other such incidents and denied a suggestion that the governor's decision might be a reaction to audits critical of some of his agencies.

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