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Legislative Audit Commission

Minutes

January 23, 2008

Members Present:

Representative Rick Hansen, Chair        Senator Don Betzold
Representative Sandra Erickson Senator Ann Rest
Representative Connie Ruth Senator Claire Robling

Members Absent:

Representative Michael Beard Senator David Hann
Representative Aaron Peterson Senator James Metzen
Representative Steve Simon

 

The Legislative Audit Commission meeting was called to order by Representative Rick Hansen, Chair, at 10:00 a.m.  The purpose of the meeting was to release the evaluation report, County Veterans Service Offices.

Representative Hansen introduced Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles to present the report.  Mr. Nobles briefly explained why the Legislative Audit Commission selected county veterans service offices for evaluation.  He indicated that the evaluation found some problems, but concluded the current structure of having counties control and operate the offices under state supervision should not be changed.  To further detail the report, Mr. Nobles introduced Jo Vos, manager of the evaluation.

Ms. Vos stated again that veterans service offices should remain a county function and described some of the advantages of having local offices and personalized services in each county.  However, she also pointed to the need for oversight by the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA).  Ms. Vos pointed out that her evaluation found wide variation in service office staffing and expenditures, as well as variation among counties in the percentage of their veterans receiving benefits.  She noted that the variation is undoubtedly related to demographic differences among counties, but it could also reflect differences in the staff and activity levels among the county offices.  Ms. Vos outlined a number of changes that the Legislature should make to give MDVA more tools to better supervise the local offices, such as requiring service offices to collect and report key performance data to the state. 

Representative Hansen introduced Clark Dyrud, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs and Duane Krueger, Anoka County Veterans Service Officer, who spoke on behalf of the Minnesota Association of County Veterans Service Officers.  Both gentlemen generally agreed with the report’s findings and recommendations and cautioned that counties do not want to be taken over by the state.    

Representative Hansen introduced Keith Carlson, representing a consortium of counties, who expressed concern that some of the report’s recommendations would result in additional unfunded state mandates for counties.

With no further business, Representative Hansen adjourned the meeting at 11:45 a.m.

 

_______________________________________
Representative Rick Hansen, Chair

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Mary Moser, Recording Secretary

 

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