Saving Taxpayers Money on Audits

Just keeping track of all the money local and state governments spend in West Virginia costs a lot of money. State Auditor John B. McCuskey may have a way to save some of it, while accomplishing something else worthwhile.

McCuskey’s office has partnered with the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics on what the two entities are calling the “Small Government Monitoring Project.” One goal is to provide accounting students with experience in financial monitoring procedures.

Last fall, 36 WVU graduate students were involved in a pilot project. They were divided into teams of six students each. The teams conducted “engagements” with small towns, looking at the municipalities’ financial records. Then, the teams prepared reports. They also were to recommend how the program can be improved.

McCuskey has said he hopes to continue the program and, perhaps formalize it as a way at least some local government entities and the state can save some money on audits required by law. That would be a continuing way of providing WVU students with real-world accounting and auditing experience.

Making that happen will require action by the state Legislature. Lawmakers should be eager to do that.

Virtually every arm of local government is required to have its books audited. That can divert money from other important services.

How much? According to records in McCuskey’s office, just one examination the city of Wheeling had to pay for last year, something called an A-133 audit, cost $60,000. That kind of money ought to make legislators very interested in McCuskey’s idea