Salem, OR—Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade concluded a review of the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission audit today. The audit was originally released in April of this year, prior to former Secretary of State Shemia Fagan’s resignation over a consulting contract with a cannabis company.
The Secretary will instruct auditors to maintain the report as issued and attach a memo outlining her review process. In addition, the Secretary has directed the Oregon Audits Division to make several changes to its processes in response to recommendations from an independent review of the audit.
“There’s no doubt public confidence was shaken by the former Secretary’s actions,” said Secretary Griffin-Valade. “However, the public interest in this case is best served by independent auditors providing evidence-supported recommendations to state government. Neither my review nor any other has uncovered a reason to think this report is anything short of that standard. For that reason, I encourage the auditee and other state leaders to treat this report with the same high regard they do any other report from the Oregon Audits Division.”
The Secretary’s memo, which outlines the findings of a month-long review process, aims to restore public trust in the report by clarifying the sound evidence on which the report stands and demonstrating that the former Secretary’s actions did not impact the contents of the report.
An independent review of the audit by Sjoberg Evashenk Consulting on behalf of the Oregon Department of Justice concluded that auditors could have done more to address public perception of the audit as the former Secretary’s actions came to light. Secretary Griffin-Valade agrees with this finding, and based on recommendations in Sjoberg’s report, has directed the Audits Division to initiate the following process improvements to protect against future threats to independence.
1. The Division will revise its audit process to remove the Executive Office and Secretary from the two scoping meetings attended by former Secretaries. This change will clarify the Secretary’s limited role in the audit process and strengthen the Division’s independence.
2. Even though auditors followed governmental auditing standards with regard to independence protocols, the Division will go further to strengthen its independence policy to ensure that threats and conflicts of interest are carefully reviewed and documented at multiple points during each audit engagement.
3. The Division will overhaul its audit plan process to document a standardized, risk-assessment based approach in determining which audit subjects are chosen.
4. The Division will contract with a third-party, independent consultant to develop further improvements to the audit plan risk assessment process.
Secretary Griffin-Valade has 16 years of experience as a government auditor, including serving on the Association of Local Government Auditors’ peer review committee.