Name as it appears on the ballot: Beth A. Wood
Date of Birth: April 22, 1954
Campaign website: www.bethwoodcampaign.com
Occupation & Employer: CPA/American Institute of CPAs
Years lived in North Carolina: All my life
1. What do you see as the most important issues facing the State Auditors office? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues? The most important issues are:
The State Auditors Office has lost credibility for the audits it issues, it doesnt have a full-time leader, there is no working relationship with the General Assembly and there is no effective training for such a specialized agency.
I plan to reestablish an effective working relationship with the General Assembly. State statute mandates that the General Assembly appropriate, annually, billions of taxpayer dollars to State agencies. Statute also holds the General Assembly accountable for how those taxpayer dollars are spent by State agencies. The Auditors Office is the tool, the resource for the General Assembly to use to gain that information. I plan to initiate a program to work more closely with the General Assembly to ensure that legislators (for example new legislators) understand the findings in the reports issued by the Auditors Office, the implications of the findings for future problems within an agency so they can be more proactive and to track resolutions of findings in State agencies.
Currently, the State Auditors Office has little credibility among State agencies, universities, community colleges and the General Assembly. The Office has been pushing a political agenda instead of focusing on auditing taxpayer moneys. I intend to put the office back on track by:
being a full-time Auditor, not working part-time
ensuring that the Office will not be used to push any political agendas. We will be pursuing the job of auditing taxpayer dollars, with no bias or forgone conclusions and providing audits that will help the General Assembly understand which agencies are managing well, the resources they are appropriated
the audits that are issued will be supported by sufficient evidence to support the results reported.
The turnover in the Auditors Office is tremendous, approximately 50% of the current staff has less than 5 years experience with the Auditors Office. A training program needs to be reinstituted to ensure that the Auditors Office is sending out auditors who have the knowledge, skills and abilities to audit the organizations the Office is charged to audit.
I want to bring back the training program that will provide the hands-on in class training as well as more effective, more stringent on-the-job training to ensure the Auditors Office is sending out the most skilled auditors to audit taxpayer moneys.
2) What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the issues youve identified? Please be as specific as possible in relating past accomplishments to current goals.
When I came to the Auditors Office I worked with staff that had been with the Office for 10 and 15 years. I was able to bring about changes in the Office that others said would never happen. I initiated a training program that met the needs of the staff, I was instrumental in the implementation of a new performance evaluation system that more accurately evaluated staff and identified areas for growth and improvement, I initiated a recruiting program to identify candidates to work in the Auditors office that were bright and hard working yet would commit to longevity with the Auditors Office.
Additionally, I am a trainer of CPAs across the nation as well as in North Carolina. I train CPAs how to audit in a governmental environment. I have just been named Outstanding Seminar Discussion Leader for the past year by the North Carolina Association of CPAs and will be receiving the award for this on April 30. I know what the staff needs in the way of training to do their job and I will see to it that they get what they need.
Also, because I am a CPA, my license, as well as my upbringing, ensures that I have the integrity and the objectivity to run a nonpartisan Office.
3) The Independents mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle and North Carolina. Please point to a specific position in your platform that would, if achieved, help further that goal.
There are several that could be used to answer this question; however, the most significant is to pledge that the Auditors Office will not be used to promote political agendas. Our job is to objectively and independently audit taxpayer dollars without bias and preconceived conclusions. AND to report exactly what we find. I pledge to do this as a CPA, and as, State Auditor.
4) Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
I dont think there is one that would cost me points with the voters. Where I may lose points is with the fact that I do intend to run the Office as a nonpartisan agency. Auditing without bias and reporting exactly what I find and making sure that the staff is trained to the best of their abilities in order to find issues if they exist are a part of my platform and the principles on which I stand.
5) If these issues havent been addressed above, would you please comment on:
a) The extent to which auditing should be policy-driven, as opposed to the fundamental job of ascertaining whether money was spent in the way the law directed that it be spent? In other words, when is it the Auditors job to recommend changes in law and policy?
Auditing standards mandate that auditors, in general, remain objective and independent to the audit. Having said that, the Auditor makes recommendations in every audit report that has findings. What the Auditors Office cannot do is get caught up in making decisions for Agency/Organization Heads. Once that happens the Auditor loses their independence and objectivity to audit in the future. The General Assembly should be the ones to use audit reports from the Auditors Office to initiate change in law and policy.
b) What areas of state spending do you think will demand your personal and sustained attention? Please be specific.
This question suggests that the Auditors Office does/could monitor State spending. Again, State Statute states that the General Assembly appropriates tax payer monies to State agencies AND that they are responsible for the spending of that money. The Auditors Office is a valuable tool for them to ensure that State agencies spend/manage taxpayer dollars appropriately.
The vast majority of the audits performed by the Auditors Office in the course of a year are statutorily mandated. They audit state agencies, universities (and UNC hospital), community colleges (every 3 years), clerks of court (every 3 years), 82 Smart Start not-for-profits and 12 component units. My personal and sustained attention will be on making sure that all these audits are completed timely, with the most skilled staff we can train, are without bias and will make sure the information gets to the General Assembly in such a way that it will be useful for them to do their job more effectively.
c) The Auditors office is expected to be nonpartisan and stay out of politics. What steps will you take to assure the public that you and your office are meeting that standard?
I will lead by example. In the scheme of our work the only way for the Auditors Office to become a partisan agency is from direction at the top and I pledge that will not be what I portray to my staff.
d) State law does not protect public employees from discrimination because of sexual orientation or identity. As an employer and department head, will you? Absolutely. What I am interested in as an employer is job performance and no disruption to others.
e) Should that law be changed to protect LGBT persons from workplace discrimination? NO ONE should be discriminated against at work.
f) Should the law be changed to allow public employees in North Carolina to bargain collectively?
6) As member of the Council of State, you would have input on the issue of the death penalty, including the execution protocol, which was taken up by the Council last year. Do you feel qualified to vote on such issues? If so, how would you vote on the execution protocol and other death penalty matters that may come before the Council? And is the Council of State an appropriate body to deliberate these issues?
I am not sure that I agree that the Council of State is the appropriate group to deliberate these issues, but if we are then I will spend the time it takes to gather the information that is needed to make such an important decision before voting. As a CPA, this is what we do before we draw conclusions AND we leave personal feelings at the door.