State Auditor Rob Sand made a routine, 99-county Tour stop underneath a shade tree in the Greenfield City Park late-morning Friday, July 22.
Sand said he makes these tour stops to gain interaction with residents around the state and to get a better pulse of the things going on in the state’s communities.
Two focuses he has for his office are working on anti-partisanship and being a little aggressive in the way his office holds state agencies accountable.
One way the state auditor’s office works on anti-partisanship is making sure there are numerous political leanings represented in decision-making.
“I also think that means that when people know that, when we put something out, they’re more inclined to trust it. I think that’s a big problem we have right now with our government, is a lack of trust. We don’t think public officials are actually trying to serve everybody,” Sand said. “So, let’s do it and let’s show them we mean it. Partisanship really doesn’t factor into what we’re doing, it’s about what the facts are and what the truth is.”
Sand, a Democrat, said his office has criticized Governor Kim Reynolds’ office, but they’ve also come to her defense on occasion, like when people questioned the validity of COVID-19 numbers early in the pandemic. Sand’s office investigated and noted no wrongdoing by Reynolds’ administration, only delays in testing results.
Sand explained being aggressive comes from a belief he has that when public officials know someone is watching and there are consequences, they will behave better.
“I’ve noticed in our house that if one boy gets a timeout the other one doesn’t usually need one that bad. If one of them is messing around and gets a consequence for it, the other one just kind of remembers that they shouldn’t do that either,” Sand said. “State departments aren’t that different from small children.”
A local asked Sand about segregation of duties, which is a ding commonly found on audits of school districts, small municipalities or hospitals in rural areas, and how those entities can do better in that area to avoid larger problems like embezzlement.
Sand said that while it’s hard to pull off, one suggestion that he has made to some communities is to pool resources together so that schools, cities and hospitals work together so that multiple hands are in financial dealings and accountability is always present.
“Your city might be really small and you don’t have enough people to do it, but your city’s a part of a school district and your city’s a part of a county, which is part of an ag extension, and you might have a hospital,” Sand said. “You can take one person from each of those entities and have them do that same role and have those same roles for each of the entities.”
While he was in Greenfield, Sand also talked about:
• His office’s Public Innovations and Efficiencies (PIE) program that was introduced in 2019 to “cut waste in publicly funded organizations, which saves taxpayers money and share successful ideas with other areas in Iowa,” Sand’s website says.
• How his office now welcomes employees from across Iowa to work in their own communities. He said this not only allows people to work for the state auditor and still live in the communities they love, but it allows for less travel and therefore less cost to clients needing the state auditor’s office’s services.
• Talked about a clean school bus program that gives school districts incentives to replace older, less environmentally-friendly buses in their fleet with new ones that are cleaner for the environment.