Bill could allow public colleges to face state audits

Published 11:13 am Monday, February 22, 2016

COLUMBUS (AP) — A bill recently approved by the Ohio House could open two- and four-year public universities to performance audits seeking potential savings.

The Columbus Dispatch reported the legislation breezed through the House, but some say universities are raising issues with the bill now that it’s in the Senate.

Rep. Mike Duffey, a Republican, sponsored the bill and said he has heard “vibrations” against it.

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“The argument goes something like this: ‘Auditor (Dave) Yost is a great auditor, but what about the next guy or gal? What if someone has an axe to grind?”’ he said. “I would say that’s an argument against the creation of a state auditor in general. That’s not an argument for or against performance audits of a public university.”

Bruce Johnson, president of the Ohio Inter-University Council, which represents four-year universities, said institutions have already faced efficiency studies and the council is concerned with duplicative mandates to save money.

Ohio State spokesman Chris Davey said the university is still examining the legislation and hasn’t taken a position on it.

Under state law, Ohio’s auditor must complete performance audits of at least four state agencies every two years. The bill would allow one of the state’s 14 public four-year universities and 23 community colleges to be among those audits every two years.

Yost called the legislation a “no-brainer” and said he wouldn’t understand why someone was against it, unless it’s “the Wizard of Oz who doesn’t want the curtain pulled back.”