PA Auditor General Posts Travel Expenses Online
Says continued improvements helping office save taxpayers $2 million annually
HARRISBURG – Keeping to his commitment of transparency and accountability, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale today became Pennsylvania’ first statewide elected official to post his expenses online as he promised to continue efforts that are saving taxpayers more than $2 million annually.
“This continues my longstanding practice and commitment to open government,” DePasquale said. “As auditor general, I should be held up to the same level of public scrutiny and accountability that I expect of the government organizations that we audit. Now, all of my travel expenses are readily available on our website for everyone to see.”
The publicly-posted information includes a monthly breakdown and annual cumulative total of DePasquale’s travel expenses since he took office in 2013. The information will be updated monthly.
DePasquale was also the first legislator in Pennsylvania to post his expenses online when he served in the House of Representatives from 2007 to 2013.
Besides being transparent about spending, DePasquale also earned a reputation for being frugal. While in the House, he had the lowest expenses of any legislator and was known for purchasing his district office furniture at yard sales.
DePasquale continues to be fiscally responsible as auditor general as evident by his actions relating to travel expenses, including:
- never submitting food or beverage reimbursement expenses in 2013 or 2014;
- keeping his hotel expenses to a minimum, spending an average of $229 per year; and
- sleeping on his mother’s couch more than a dozen times during overnight business trips to the Pittsburgh area rather than staying in hotels.
Overall, DePasquale has averaged $10,304 in travel expenses a year. Since 2013, the auditor general has travelled extensively throughout Pennsylvania to announce audit results, champion for state and taxpayer issues and meet with government officials and community and education leaders.
“Taxpayers don’t want their government officials jet-setting back-and-forth across the state in first-class, staying in plush hotels and eating fancy meals on their dime,” DePasquale said.
“When you are charged with spending other people’s money, every dime should count and should be treated as if it is your own,” DePasquale said. “There have been significant cuts in state funding for important programs and services, particularly in education. I won’t compound the state budget problems by running up needless expenses.”
Entering his third year as auditor general, DePasquale’s office is saving more than $2 million annually because of tough budget decisions and numerous initiatives to increase efficiency and productivity. Reviews of state spending continue to identify waste, fraud and potential savings.
While operating with historically low staff numbers, more than 10,600 audits were completed since 2013. Some highlights of audit results and office cost cutting include:
- identified more than $40 million in corporate tax underpayments, misallocated funds, and potential fraud;
- found more than $20 million in fraud, errors and other financial issues in school districts, career/technical schools, intermediate units and charter schools;
- recommended ways for the Department of Human Services to better manage and oversee programs designed to provide home care for the elderly and people with disabilities;
- caused improved enforcement of the state’s dog laws;
- recommended improvements to make state prisons and state hospitals safer, more efficient and cost-effective;
- suggested 27 recommendations to help Department of Environmental Protection improve its oversight of water quality in the midst of the gas shale drilling boom;
- offered numerous recommendations improve schools, better educate children and to save taxpayers money;
- urged the Department of Community and Economic Development to do a better job in managing hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer-funded job creation programs;
- worked with the Department of Agriculture to improve amusement ride inspections;
- fought against Gov. Tom Corbett’s attempt to privatize the Pennsylvania Lottery;
- called on the Department of Human Services to immediately address errors auditors found where more than $200,000 in benefits was provided to people using electronic benefit transfer (EBT/ACCESS) cards related to Social Security Numbers of deceased individuals;
- continued working for comprehensive municipal pension reform;
- cut hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in real estate lease expenses by consolidating office space; and
- cut the Department of Auditor General’s vehicle fleet by 75 percent — from 241 vehicles in 2013 to 60 today.
“We all can appreciate how hard people work to make a living and to support their families,” DePasquale said. “Everyone who works with tax dollars must strive to spend every tax dollar as if it was their own money. I strive to practice what I preach and lead by example.”
The travel expense information is available online at: www.auditorgen.state.pa.us, under “About Us.”