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University audit bill could lead to savings

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Dave Yost, Ohio’s auditor of state, has stated his support for House Bill 384. Credit: Courtesy of the Auditor of State of Ohio

Dave Yost, Ohio’s auditor of state, has stated his support for House Bill 384. Credit: Courtesy of the Auditor of State of Ohio

The Ohio House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow the auditor of the state to do performance audits on state universities and colleges and could, in turn, save money for students down the road.

House Bill 384 would allow these audits to check state institutions of higher learning on three main categories: economy, efficiency and effectiveness. Performance audits of Ohio school districts have found about $77 million in potential savings since 2011, according to an Ohio House press release.

Some members of the Ohio House, such as Rep. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, hope that the new audit bill will find similar savings at state colleges and universities.

“We’ve got to do something to make higher education more affordable,” Schaffer said. “This is a roadmap on how to save money.”

Schaffer was one of two primary bill sponsors, along with Rep. Mike Duffey, R-Worthington.

“Simply put, performance audits are a best practice when taxpayer money is involved,” Duffey said in an Ohio House press release. “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.”

Besides being favored by a majority in the House, the bill also has support from Ohio Auditor Dave Yost and the Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants.

“Performance audits get results — we’ve already provided more than a billion dollars in recommended savings in Ohio,” Yost said in an Ohio Auditor of State press release. “Colleges and universities should receive these benefits as well. I appreciate the good work of representatives Schaffer and Duffey on this bill, and I look forward to working with the Senate to make it law.”

In an emailed statement from Chris Davey, an Ohio State spokesman, he said that the university is still looking into the legislation and hasn’t come out with a position on it.

Schaffer said he hopes that all public universities will support the bill.

“I would hope that they would embrace it. They will find ways to perform their functions and save money at the same time,” Schaffer said. “Universities can learn from each other and spread the good news.”

Schaffer said the similar audits now being performed in the government have a 1-33 cost-benefit ratio. For every $1 spent performing the audit, they find $33 worth of savings.

The bill states that at the state auditor’s discretion, the auditor of state might conduct a performance audit of a state institution of higher education as one of the four required performance audits, which are required every two years. Institutions that undergo the auditing process must make comments available to the public 21 days after the release date of the audit.

The bill is now on its way to the Senate, where it will wait for a final vote.

“If we can save students on tuition, we should do it,” Schaffer said.

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