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Mena Arkansas News covering Polk County and the surrounding area

House of Representatives Weekly Report – September 18, 2013

BY NATE BELL –

One of the most important functions of the legislative branch of government is to exercise oversight on the executive branch and its use of state funds and resources.  The Arkansas legislature fulfills this responsibility in several ways, one of which is the performance of audits via the Division of Legislative Audit.

I serve as the House Chairman of the Legislative Audit Sub-Committee on State Agencies. This sub-committee meets monthly to review audits of various state agencies, boards and commissions. The vast majority of the time these audits have very few “findings” and when problems are occasionally discovered they are usually relatively minor. The most common problems found are improper travel reimbursements, issues with accounting practices and petty theft. As chairman of this sub-committee I have a policy of requesting that agencies with improperly used or misappropriated funds to seek reimbursement of the money from the persons responsible.  I’m pleased to report that the collection efforts are often successful and taxpayer funds are being recovered regularly.
During the most recently completed legislative session, I was able to shepherd Act 1056 into law.  The new law improves the ability of the Division of Legislative Audit to work with other authorities to seek civil recovery from persons responsible for misuse of taxpayer funds. You can see the new law here: http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/assembly/2013/2013R/Acts/Act1056.pdf

Last Friday, the full Legislative Audit committee heard testimony resulting from an investigation of the University of Arkansas Division of University Advancement.  This investigative report raised serious questions about the transparency and accuracy of information provided to our auditors. Following several hours of questioning as well as whistleblower testimony that directly contradicts the sworn testimony of University administrators the Committee voted unanimously to suspend the hearing pending further investigation. You can view the investigative report here: http://arklegaudit.gov/showfile.php?t=webaudit&fid=IRHE69713  I have particular concerns with the apparent attempt to mislead auditors that is detailed on pages 12 and 13 of the report and I’ll have additional updates on this as it develops.

I appreciate the opportunity to represent you in Little Rock. If I can assist you in any way please feel free to contact me. The best method of contact is via e-mail to nate.bell@arkansashouse.org or you may call or text my cell phone at 479-234-2092. If you don’t receive a response within 24 hours, please try again using an alternate method of contact.

Have a blessed week!

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