Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Beth A. Wood
Full Legal Name: Beth Ann Wood
Date of Birth: April 22, 1954
Campaign Web Site: bethwoodcampaign.com
Occupation & Employer: CPA-NC State Auditor Office Of NC State Auditor
Years lived in North Carolina: All My Life – 58 Years
1. What do you see as the most important issues facing the State Auditor’s office? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?
First Issue – Performing and producing effective audits
The Office of the State Auditor has far reaching power in who we talk to, what records we look at, where we investigate/audit when it comes to ensuring that the billions of taxpayer dollars paid by NC citizens are accounted for and reported properly, are spent for the intended purposes AND most importantly are not wasted. While the Office of State Auditor is powerful in this one capacity it does not have the power to fix any of the problems it finds. This can only be done by the agency/institution’s head, the Governor or the General Assembly.
The Office of the State Auditor must produce audits/audit findings that are irrefutable, credible and without bias so they can be used by agency/institution heads, the Governor or the General Assembly to correct the issues/errors/wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars identified by the Office of the State Auditor.
Second Issue – Maintain Competent Auditors
Governmental Accounting/Transactions are complex and complicated. Most universities offer very little to prepare auditors on the specifics of auditing governments – whether state or local. It is up to the Office of the State Auditor to provide the training to its staff on how to audit State Government, universities and community colleges. The training takes about 2 years and then it is important for the Office of the State Auditor to maintain this trained staff to perform audits on the billions of taxpayer dollars paid in to the State by our NC citizens.
Currently, salaries in the auditors Office are not competitive enough which makes retention of competent, well trained staff a challenge. It is critical that the Auditor provide a competitive and challenging place for its auditors to work.
Third Issue – Providing the Office with Competent and Strong Leadership
The Office of the State Auditor must have effective and competent leadership. The staff need to know their leader has the competence, skills and experience to understand and complement what it is they do. It would be difficult to obtain the respect necessary for a leader if the most recently hired staff are more qualified than their leader.
The General Assembly and the Governor need to know that the work coming from the State Auditor’s Office is irrefutable, will hold up under scrutiny so that they can take steps to correct issues found/stop wasteful spending. If the State Auditor is not seen as being that person who is competent, skilled, has the experience and can provide independent unbiased work then those who can make change (General Assembly/Governor) in how our State government does business will not use the audits/findings to do so.
2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the issues you’ve identified? Please be as specific as possible in relating past accomplishments to current goals.
In my 4 years as state auditor we have provided the General Assembly and the Governor with irrefutable findings on wasteful/inefficient spending (100s of Millions of dollars of wasteful spending) in our state government. As a result, the General Assembly has implemented laws to stop wasteful spending identified by the Office.
The Office of the State Auditor is making a conscious effort to hire staff who want to be challenged in their career, who want to be great at their job, who are committed to the objectives of the Office but yet want a good work-life balance. We are recruiting these employees in hopes that we can retain the talent needed to audit the tax dollars of NC citizens.
I have a proven record over the last 4 years of taking this Office in a direction that maximizes the efforts of the Office. I have led the Office to produce better audits more efficiently, I have led the Office in results based performance. All divisions within the Office have performance metrics which ensures efficient use of our resources. I have led the Office in producing audits with irrefutable findings which has been evidenced by the actions taken by the General Assembly in passing laws to prevent further wasteful spending as a result of audits presented to them.
3. The Independent’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle and North Carolina. Please point to a specific position in your platform that would, if achieved, help further that goal.
As part of my platform, and it has been carried out over the last 4 years, is to take the politics out of the Office of State Auditor. The audits performed and the work done by this Office should never be of a partisan nature. Again, users of our work need to be assured that the audit reports are conducted objectively, without bias and the conclusions/findings are based on fact and evidence.
4. Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
I stand by the fact that this Office will audit where the risks lead us and we will report what we find based on facts supported by evidence and I can’t be swayed by where or who’s feet the findings fall.
5. If these issues haven’t been addressed above, would you please comment on:
a. The extent to which auditing should be policy-driven, as opposed to the fundamental job of ascertaining whether money was spent in the way the law directed that it be spent? In other words, when is it the Auditor’s job to recommend changes in law and policy?
The Auditor’s job is to make recommendations for the findings that result from an audit but professional standards prohibit Auditors from being involved in the specifics of how to implement the recommendations. So, again, the Auditor currently makes recommendations.
b. What areas of state spending do you think will demand your personal and sustained attention? Please be specific.
Spending in the Department of Health and Human Services. It is one of the largest in our State Government.
c. The Auditor’s office is expected to be nonpartisan and stay out of politics. What steps will you take to assure the public that you and your office are meeting that standard?
We will continue to perform objective non-biased audits, we will continue to audit where the risks lead us, we will continue to report what we find (no matter where the findings fall) and we will maintain a staff that includes all parties.
d. What steps will you take as Auditor to build trust that the office is applying the law equally, to each subject of investigation?
To continue our record of auditing where the risks lead and reporting what we find.
e. In the past, turnover in the Auditor’s office has been high. What measures will you take to recruit and retain qualified, experienced employees?
I will continue to seek talented, competent staff who want to be great at their job, want to take pride in their job but who want a good work-life balance and therefore recognizes the salary, on an annual basis, may not be as high as in the public sector.
We will continue to work on employee morale and ensure that we manage properly the staff we have.
f. What additional measures should the state Auditor take to encourage citizens to offer information about the abuse of taxpayer dollars?
In about 30 days the Auditor’s Office will be launching an application that can be downloaded to your phone and from there one can report abusive spending of taxpayer dollars.
We will continue to communicate our Office hotline for reporting tips of fraud or abuse and continue to provide anonymity to those that report to us.