Mo. auditor to look at year-end expenses

Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich says he’s heard rumors over the years about government agencies going on spending sprees near the end of the budget year, and now that he’s in a position to check them out, he intends to determine whether they are true.

Schweich said Monday that he is launching an audit of some of Missouri’s largest agencies to determine whether they hurry up to spend any remaining money before the state’s annual fiscal year expires. The assumption, at least according to what Schweich said he’s heard, is that some bureaucrats want to deplete their allotment of money so that it doesn’t appear they don’t need it.

Schweich, a Republican who took office in January, said he’s heard similar versions of such spending-spree assertions from people he encountered on the campaign trail, from lawmakers and from his prior service at the U.S. Department of State.

“It’s intuitive that you don’t want your budget reduced, so you find a way to spend all the money you have,” Schweich told The Associated Press. “But no one’s ever actually gone out and analyzed whether that actually happens. If it’s true, we could save who knows how many millions of dollars. If it’s not, then we put these rumors to rest.”

The auditor’s office has not announced which agencies will be targeted for review, but Schweich said it will include those with some of the largest expenditures. He plans to look at several years of expenses, comparing costs during the normal course of the year with those in the final days, weeks or months of the fiscal year.

Missouri’s fiscal year runs from July through June.

Schweich said he considers the audit one of the most important of the year because of the potential savings and hopes to complete it by the end or 2011 or start of 2012.

“If this is all just a bunch of baloney, that’s what we’ll say in the audit — it doesn’t really happen,” Schweich said.

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