by Ivan Foley
Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway is a busy lady.
She is traveling the state as part of a series of visits with groups on issues related to the small business community, including a follow up audit of the Small Business Regulatory Fairness Board. Her office has a full caseload of audits of public entities. She’s a relative newcomer to the field of statewide politics, having only been in her current position about a year and a half. She’ll be running for election to a full term in 2018.
And, she is nearly six months into a pregnancy. She and her husband will welcome their third child into the world in early January.
Busy times indeed.
The outgoing state auditor with a contagious laugh--she is 34 years of age but many folks say she looks younger than that (more on this later)--was in Platte County on Tuesday and dropped in The Landmark office for a visit.
Galloway, a Democrat, was appointed state auditor by Gov. Jay Nixon in April of 2015 after the much-publicized suicide of auditor Tom Schweich.
Her appointment came as a surprise to some observers. At the time, Galloway was serving as the elected treasurer of Boone County in Columbia and had no statewide name recognition.
Galloway had served Boone County for four years.
“I knew I could bring something to the table in Boone County, with my background,” she said of her decision to run for county office.
Her somewhat unique public background includes her qualifications as a CPA and a certified fraud examiner.
“I have spent most of my time in the private sector. And I’m not an attorney,” she laughed.
“I really cared about my local community and this (running for county treasurer) was a way to get involved in the community.”
Her appointed term as state auditor expires in 2018. Galloway says there is no doubt she will be on the ballot hoping to be elected to a full term in 2018.
“I would not have accepted this position if it wasn’t something that I was really serious about, believed in and wanted to keep for a long time,” she said.
The work she does as auditor can make a difference in society.
“I believe in what an auditor can do. Shining the light on issues and problems can impact communities in a positive way,” she added.
“Sometimes it’s the small things that need to be corrected, sometimes it’s fraud. If (an auditor) points out those things it can lead to citizens being better served by their government,” Galloway emphasized.
She said what she has found is that people in government “generally want to do the right thing and want to do the job the right way, sometimes they just don’t know how.”
“We want to prevent fraud and mismanagement. We want to prevent taxpayer dollars from being wasted,” she stated.
Most of the audits of government entities conducted by the state auditor’s office are petition-driven exams, meaning a certain percentage of voters in the entity have signed a petition requesting the action.
But in other situations, such as auditing a school district or a municipal court, the auditor’s office has the discretion to conduct those audits at anytime without a petition drive being necessary.
When it comes to deciding on where a discretionary audit needs to be performed, Galloway said issues such as “where our resources can be best used to highlight issues and make recommendations for improvements” are factors that come into play.
In addition to discretionary audits of schools and municipal courts, new legislation just enacted in August allows the state auditor to now conduct discretionary audits of community improvement districts, she said.
“Some CIDs are set up with boundaries with no registered voters to petition for an audit, so basically they were immune from transparency and accountability,” Galloway said.
In doing any audit on any entity, “We look at high risk areas for mismanagement and laws not being followed as they should be. We also take into account citizens’ concerns,” she explained.
In line with the topic of citizen concerns, she said her office provides a hotline that taxpayers and citizens can call to report concerns regarding any public entity. She said a lot of very useful information is often gathered from the tip line. The number to call is 1-800-347-8597.
She explained the audit process includes more than just financial numbers, it combines financial exams with performance and management audits. She said the purpose is to be sure the auditee is in compliance with all rules, laws, and regulations.
“We look for efficiency and effectiveness and best management practices,” she said.
Whether or not the entity has met compliance with all areas of the Sunshine Law--the state’s open meetings and records law--is a big part of any audit, she said. The auditor’s office will study the minutes, study factors such as proper posting of meetings, proper use of closed sessions, and how an entity responds to requests for public records.
As for that part about people often thinking she is even younger than her age of 34, Galloway has a story to tell.
“People poke fun at me for that all the time. About a year ago I had to give a speech at a casino. We parked on the wrong side. I was trying to walk through the casino and all I had with me was my speech. The casino worker wouldn’t let me through because I didn’t have my ID. I told him we were auditing the gaming commission right now and ‘you have passed the Secret Shopper test,’” she recalled with a laugh.