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Senate advances bill creating legislative watchdog office

Ponca City Now - March 11, 2019 2:55 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Senate on Monday overwhelmingly approved a bill from President Pro Tempore Greg Treat that creates a legislative watchdog office to provide both lawmakers and the general public independent data on agency budgets and performance.

Senate Bill 1 creates the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT) and advanced on a 38-10 vote. The bill is a key component of the Senate Republicans’ agenda for the 2019 session.

“The Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency will give lawmakers and the public tools to better hold agencies accountable by providing independent data on budgets and performance,” said Treat, R-Oklahoma City. “More than 30 states have an office similar to LOFT; and in those states, lawmakers have access to objective data they can use to set spending priorities and evaluate agency performance. Right now, in Oklahoma, lawmakers are dependent on information provided directly by agencies or by those who benefit from agency spending. That’s not the best system of accountability, but LOFT fixes this by giving lawmakers independent data so that we can make more informed decisions when writing the budget. Additionally, LOFT’s performance data and reviews will allow legislators and the public to determine the success or failure of individual state programs. With that information, we can implement changes to ensure taxpayer dollars are used wisely and efficiently.”

Key parts of SB 1:

  • LOFT will conduct performance evaluations of agencies, programs, or specific divisions;
  • LOFT would have open access to all agency data and budgets;
  • LOFT would be overseen by a bipartisan committee of House and Senate members;
  • LOFT would have a small nonpartisan, independent staff of highly educated professionals;
  • LOFT reports would be available to the public.

SB 1 now moves to the House; the bill is authored in the House by Speaker Charles McCall.

 

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