Delaware State Auditor Kathy McGuiness appeared before the Joint Finance Committee on Feb. 5 to present a plan to improve performance and restore relevancy in the auditor’s office.

During the past decade, inconsistent funding and understaffing created significant challenges in the auditor’s office. McGuiness’ strategy aims to restore office funding and staffing to a level and capacity not seen since fiscal 2008.

McGuiness’ proposal maintains the current funding level in order to fully staff the office and also seeks to create four new, non-auditing policy positions to work with financial auditors in areas where the state spends a majority of its money, like education, health and social services.

Without adequate staffing, the office’s capability to conduct and oversee audits diminishes along with its ability to meet minimum auditing standards set forth nationally for government auditors.

McGuiness requested funding for five new auditing positions to perform quality review work of in-house and contracted audit engagements to ensure the office fully complies with these standards.

One of the first things McGuiness began during the transition period following her election was reviewing operations, contracts, procedures and processes within the office.

With a significant amount of state government located in New Castle County, the auditor’s office is looking to restore its presence in Wilmington, which was recently abandoned. In addition, given the amount of auditing work now taking place in Sussex County, the importance of establishing a presence there was raised as well during the hearing.

Since fiscal 2014, the annual growth rate for the auditor’s office remained below 1 percent. Cumulatively, this inconsistent funding over the course of more than 10 years contributed to the erosion of the office’s capabilities.

To support the office’s drive to restore staff and expand, McGuiness requested additional funds from the JFC for training and professional development, which the staff of the office has requested.