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Lawmakers want child-care audit

Lawmakers agreed Wednesday that the state's child-care licensing system is the next area of government that should be examined by the Legislative Auditor General's Office.

The request from four senators, including Majority Leader Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, was moved to the top of the list of upcoming audits by the Audit Subcommittee of the Legislative Management Committee.

"There are some real serious problems," Senate Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich, D-Price, said of the Department of Health's child-care licensing system in recommending that it be the next audit done.

The audit was sought to look at not only the child-care licensing system, but also at enforcement. The senators requesting the audit asked, too, that due process for providers be assessed, as well as the independence of how sanctions are administered.

Other upcoming audits include the state Office of Education's budgetary procedures, local school board compliance with the state open meetings act, use of state motor pool vehicles and whether the Office of Recovery Services is improperly excusing debts.

An audit of the Utah Transit Authority to determine whether it could be operated more efficiently by the state was taken off the list after Dmitrich said it had only a "phantom sponsor."

Members of the subcommittee also heard the results of the office's latest audit, of the state's Constitutional Defense Fund. The fund is used to defend state and local governments against challenges to roads that exist on public lands.

Several problems were cited with the fund, including minutes not being maintained for five of eight closed-door meetings in violation of the open meetings act. More than $62,000 in expenses were also described as questionable.

However, members of the subcommittee noted that the problems were in the past now that Lt. Gov. Gayle McKeachnie has taken over the fund. "They're much more open and willing to discuss things in a public manner," House Speaker Marty Stephens, R-Farr West, said.