April 7, 2011
|Senator Roger Reinert, Chair|
|Senator Mike Parry|
|Representative Michael Beard|
|Representative Rick Hansen|
The meeting of the Topic Selection Subcommittee of the Legislative Audit Commission was called to order by Senator Roger Reinert, Chair, at 1:05 p.m.
Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles said that the purpose of the meeting was to review the list of 64 evaluation topics suggested by legislators and others. A list of 10 – 12 topics would become “semi-finalists” that would later be narrowed down to a final list to present to the full Legislative Audit Commission. Mr. Nobles introduced Judy Randall, Evaluation Manager, who organized the topic selection process this year. Mr. Nobles explained that it is helpful to have more topics selected than OLA can finish by next legislative session so that they have evaluations to conduct after the larger evaluations are done and before new topics are selected.
Senator Reinert suggested picking the top six topics that were already selected by at least two members of the committee. Then he asked each subcommittee member to go through the list of proposed topics and name two more choices to be on the “semi-finalist” list. The subcommittee discussed several of the topics. Mr. Nobles told Senator Parry that he would be happy to address his committee regarding the Department of Human Services Oversight of Nonprofit Organizations topic whether or not it is selected, since OLA has done so much work in that area. In response to Representative Hansen’s question regarding balance amongst the topics selected so far, Ms. Randall suggested picking a few smaller topics since most chosen at that point were larger. Mr. Nobles highlighted the Accountability and Oversight of Legacy Amendment Funds topic; this topic could have a significant impact on the accountability for these funds.The 12 topics selected by the subcommittee for further consideration were:
State Services for the Blind
Title IX in Higher Education
University of Minnesota Facilities Management
Public Utilities’ Assessments and Fees
Accountability and Oversight of Legacy Amendment Funds
Fiscal Note Process
Financing State Capital Projects
Consolidation of Local Governments
Child Protection Services Screening Practices
Enforcement of Vehicle Size and Weight Restrictions
Helping Communities Recover from Disasters
Metropolitan Council Water and Sewer Access Charges
Mr. Nobles said that on Monday following the meeting, a survey would be sent to all legislators to determine their interest in the “semi-finalist” topics. He said the deadline to return the ballots would be Friday, April 29. He also explained that in the meantime, OLA staff would draft background papers on these topics, which would help members make a final selection to present to the full LAC.
Representative Hansen asked Mr. Nobles about staff attrition at OLA. Mr. Nobles said that John Yunker, a Program Evaluation Division Manager, had just announced his retirement for the end of June. He explained how this would be a significant loss for the division as Mr. Yunker’s contributions to the office have been very valuable throughout the years.
With no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 1:48 p.m.
Senator Roger Reinert, Chair
Shelly Watterud, Recording Secretary