LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska Auditor Charlie Janssen may ask lawmakers to find ways to help enforce the findings his office makes after reviewing spending by state agencies.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports ( ) that currently there is little that Janssen’s office can do besides call attention to bad management practices and questionable spending.

“The auditor only has so much authority,” Janssen said. “We don’t really have any corrective action.”

The latest example came earlier this month when several problems were found in an audit of the Nebraska Brand Committee. The director resigned, but then was offered a new job at the agency with the same pay.

The board that oversees the Brand Committee, which inspects cattle and investigates missing and stolen livestock, has defended its response to the audit. Officials say the agency is working to develop online bookkeeping software, and a work group has been formed to study needed policy updates.

Janssen said auditors often find the same lingering problems when they return to an agency three or four years after the last audit.

For example, his office’s most recent annual statewide audit noted almost three-dozen findings that were raised by previous audits but were never addressed by the agencies involved.

“It bothers us all because we feel that we provide a service to protect taxpayer dollars,” said Mary Avery, special audits manager and a 38-year employee of the auditor’s office.

Auditors can ask criminal prosecutors to look into a problem, but most cases don’t rise to that level.

Janssen said agencies will sometimes study audit reports without taking much action to fix problems. He said he’s open to the auditor’s office gaining more enforcement power, but he wouldn’t want it to conflict with the attorney general’s authority.

“I think it would be beneficial if it could be done in the right way,” Janssen said. “Not saying I need to have a badge.”

Information from: Lincoln Journal Star,

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