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Legislative Audit Commission Meeting


February 3, 2006

Members Present:

Representative Lyndon Carlson    Senator David Hann
Representative Sondra Erickson Senator James Metzen
Representative Rick Hansen Senator Thomas Neuville
Representative Torrey Westrom Senator Ann Rest
Representative Tim Wilkin Senator Claire Robling

Members Absent:

Representative Ruth Johnson Senator Richard Cohen
Representative Aaron Peterson    Senator Sheila Kiscaden
Representative Connie Ruth Senator Warren Limmer

The Legislative Audit Commission meeting was called to order by Senator Ann Rest, Chair, at 1:38 p.m. in Room 112 of the State Capitol. The purpose of the meeting was to release and review the program evaluation report, Child Support Enforcement; and to confirm the appointment of the new deputy legislative auditor for the Financial Audit Division.

Senator Rest introduced Jim Nobles, Legislative Auditor. Mr. Nobles gave an overview of the scope of the evaluation and then introduced John Patterson, Project Manager.

Mr. Patterson reviewed the major findings of the child support enforcement program, which scores better than most states on several performance measures, but still has room for improvement. The evaluation recommended better coordination between the Department of Human Services (DHS) and other state agencies on any activity that might affect data and computer systems used by the child support enforcement program. Other recommendations include strengthening county accountability; improving the computer systems, which are critical to program efficiency; and developing arrears management policies.

At 1:46 p.m., Senator Rest noted that a quorum was present. Senator Rest asked about Legislative action for the list of recommendations. Mr. Patterson said that some do need Legislative action; others can be done internally at DHS. Senator Rest thanked Mr. Nobles and Mr. Patterson. She then introduced Wayland Campbell, Director of the Child Support Enforcement Division at DHS. Mr. Campbell said that DHS is in the process of establishing new guidelines that should address the recommendations in the evaluation.

Senator Rest thanked Mr. Campbell, and mentioned that the meeting would move to the consideration of the appointment for the new deputy legislative auditor. She pointed out the letter from Claudia Gudvangen to the commission members; reminding them that Ms. Gudvangen had recently retired after serving as deputy for over eight years. Senator Rest also noted that she and Representative Wilkin had directed Congratulatory Resolutions to be presented to Ms. Gudvangen on behalf of the LAC, respectively through the two bodies.

Senator Rest again recognized Mr. Nobles. Mr. Nobles reminded the LAC that state law allows the Legislative Auditor to appoint two deputies, one for the Program Evaluation Division and one for the Financial Audit Division; both appointments require approval by the Legislative Audit Commission. The deputy then serves a term coterminous with the legislative auditor. The legislative auditor, by law, serves a six-year term. Mr. Nobles stated that he is currently in his fourth six-year term, and has approximately 20 months left on that term. He reminded the commission that when Roger Brooks (the previous deputy of the Program Evaluation Division) retired a few years back, he decided not to replace him. Since Mr. Nobles had once filled the role of the deputy of that division, he decided it would be wise not to fill it and to share the responsibilities with his colleagues. However, he would not feel comfortable filling the duties of the Financial Audit Division deputy. Mr. Nobles then introduced Cecile Ferkul, and gave some background information on her.

Ms. Ferkul greeted Chair Rest and the other members of the commission. She then gave a brief overview of her history with the OLA. Representative Wilkin made a motion to confirm the appointment of Cecile Ferkul as deputy legislative auditor of the Financial Audit Division. The motion prevailed, and Ms. Ferkul’s appointment was confirmed.

With no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:01 p.m.

Senator Ann H. Rest, Chair

Shelly Watterud, Recording Secretary


Office of the Legislative Auditor ♦ Room 140, 658 Cedar St., St. Paul, MN 55155