MACo Policy Associate Kevin Kinnally testified to amend House Bill 1341, “Maryland Public School Transparency and Accountability Act,” which would require a county government to establish an independent office of the inspector general to oversee the local school system if the system has received 10 or more repeat findings by the State Office of Legislative Audits (OLA). MACo agrees that school systems should be operating in compliance with all laws and regulations but believes this should be based on discretion and in a cost-effect manner.
MACo’s testimony states,
Under current law, the OLA performs financial audits of schools every 6 years. School systems are allowed to request an exemption permitting them to opt out from one audit, extending the time of the audit to once in twelve years. HB 1341 seeks to require more extensive oversight for problem school systems.
First, HB 1341 should be amended to enable, rather than mandate, a county to establish an office of the inspector general. Some counties already have inspector generals or similar independent offices that audit their local school systems and other county-supported functions.
Additionally, HB 1341 should be amended to remove the threshold of 10 or more repeat findings by the OLA. Local governments are in the best position for determining when their school systems require additional oversight. The ability to do so should not be constrained by a specific floor for the number of findings.
Finally, the bill should be amended to expressly require the office to report to the local governing body that established it.
HB 1341 was heard by the House Ways and Means Committee on February 28, 2017.