15 Years of Audits Reveal Fiscal Irresponsibility at the Oregon Commission for the Blind

A Secretary of State Audits Division audit report questions if $1.46 million used by the Oregon Commission for the Blind was spent prudently or lawfully.

The audit was initiated in 2007 after the Secretary of State received allegations of mismanaged operations and misused funds. After substantiating several allegations, it was found that problems identified in several previous audits were still occurring. According to the report, $61,000 was used for “purposes that did not always benefit clients and, in some cases, were not allowed by federal regulations.” Examples include $12,000 for a trip to the San Juan Islands.

Previously, a 1995 audit concluded that the Commission wasted $1.75 million and failed to “properly manage public money and assets entrusted to them.” Four years later, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee found that “agency expenditures were questionable and that the Commission exercises virtually no fiscal oversight.”

The latest audit report demonstrates that the Commission has not learned from its mistakes. “We make recommendations with the hope that they will follow them,” said Audit Division communications director Don Hamilton. But without authority to enforce recommendations, hope is all the auditors have.

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Jacob Szeto is Investigative Reporter at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.