Politicizing of the State Auditors office or Software Glitch? 17 Jul 17

Has the State Auditor Hijacked the Audit Process in eight Minnesota Counties, all of them in Northwestern Minnesota?

Some are calling it political opportunism, others a software glitch that can and will be corrected, but taxpayers and county officials seem to be caught in the middle of an audit bru-ha-ha between State Auditor Rebecca Otto, the accounting firm of Hoffman, Philipp and Knutson and the 2015 County Audit.

Coleen Hoffman with Hoffman, Philipp and Knutson, says her firm, which has a long history with the State Auditor’s Office, has never had an issue since becoming part of a pilot project privatizing the State Audit Process for some counties in 2003.

While Hoffman admits some challenges in software implemented by her firm in 2015, the State Association of CPA’s has come to her support, saying all auditors whether private or state, have choices in documentation and that all the facts have yet to be verified.

Even as Hoffman says she is working with State Auditor Rebecca Otto to resolve differences, State Representative Dan Fabian says, after talking with Otto, he believes the situation is more political opportunism than audit accuracy, citing on-going legislative disputes and Otto’s campaign for governor.

Late last month County Officials in Pennington, Roseau, Kittson, Hubbard, Red Lake, Pennington, Clearwater and Koochiching Counties received notice from the Minnesota State Auditor’s Office that a review of audits provided by Hoffman, Philipp and Knutson ending December 31st 2015 demonstrated “technical deficiencies” affecting the reliability of the work, saying the Office of State Auditor would be performing a new audit and would also take up the on-going 2016 Audit.

Meanwhile, the eight counties involved will meet early next month to discuss options and a potential response, concerned both about cost and a potential slowdown in the audit process that could cost them their bond rating. That session has been scheduled August 3rd, at the Shared Use Facility on Thief River Falls West Side.