Accurate or not?

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An audit that came out of the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office several months ago frets that the federal government’s job reporting system “provides little assurance that the information state agencies report to the federal government is accurate. While there are criteria that relate to the specific reporting requirements of state agencies, there are no criteria on how states as single entities should manage the overall reporting of ARRA funds.”

Louisiana, itself, is an interesting case. For one thing, it is one of five states, along with Alaska, Arkansas, Maryland, and Texas, that haven’t established an official czar. In addition, Louisiana has opted for a decentralized stimulus data reporting system. In other words, in Louisiana, agencies are self-verifying their numbers and it isn’t clear to the auditors how and by whom the accuracy of those numbers is being checked at the end of the process. “Louisiana,” the audit reads, “is primarily depending on guidance provided by the federal government to oversee the ARRA program and ensure the information state agencies report is accurate.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean that the process is or isn’t working, only that the auditor doesn’t seem able to be certain. From the auditor’s perspective, policies are being followed, and yet, as Nicole Edmonson, Performance Audit Manager, says, “In our report we just pointed out that it is kind of hard to say who is responsible for the funds. As the legislative auditor we’re not going to say how things should be done—we’re only going to say how things are being done. Is there going to be enough accountability in there? I would have to say I hope so.”

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One Response to “Accurate or not?”

  1. tjsadowski Says:

    None of this is or should be surprising. Why should this system be any different from a state’s internal reporting system especially when no resources are provided? What would be useful would be for states to review at a high level what they did report to see if it appears reasonable and valid. This all begs the question as to how what is reported is used and by whom. What level of effort should be used in reporting? This is not a “close enough for government work” comment. It reflects my longstanding belief that too often there is not a risk assessment effort, i.e., given how the info is used what is the standard of care in preparing it? If the info is wrong, what damage is caused?

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