RI & SC look at restructuring state government, eliminating offices

South Carolina and Rhode Island are looking at ways to restructure their state governments. Both states are considering elimination of state administrative offices, and would put that authority within the Governor’s purview. Rhode Island’s Chief Auditor has already resigned in the wake of the action in that state.

Chief Auditor H. Chris Der Vartanian has resigned after 21-years in state government, citing a move by Governor Chaffee to end the bureau of audits and move the functions into a new office. Funding for the bureau was cut as part of budget negotiations in the state. The functions would be merged into other existing administrative offices, effectively ending the watchdog aspect of the bureau.

Writing in his resignation letter, Der Vartanian said, “ironically this proposed elimination comes at a time when the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) one of the country’s oldest and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organizations categorized the Bureau as one of the highest performing state internal audit agencies in the country and one of the major factors leading to the state of Rhode Island achieving a ranking of 10th in the nation in terms of preventing corruption. The CPI indicated that without the independent Bureau of Audits, the ranking for the State of Rhode Island would drop to 33rd in the nation for preventing corruption, a testament to the work performed by our office.”

He has also asked for a meeting with state executives to go over the functions of the office.

In South Carolina, Republican lawmakers there are proposing an amendment that would eliminate the Budget and Control Board and create a new Department of Administration. The new department would effectively bring 90% of the state’s administrative duties under control of the Governor.

The bill is part of a broader administrative overhaul being pursued by the majority republican state government to bring the number of agencies down to 10. The proposed new org chart is here.

According to an article in The State the new department would have an executive director appointed by the Governor and would control administrative functions such as IT and human resources.