Point of View: Full circle on transparency and accountability
As leaders of the business community, we know it takes strong, effective leadership to manage an organization. Equally important are appropriate financial transparency and analysis. Businesses cannot operate in the dark, not knowing where money comes from or where it goes. Any business must prioritize expenditures and ensure every penny is used wisely.
Government is no different. Financial transparency and accountability to the public are constitutional and fiduciary duties.
As we’ve seen with the state Department of Health scandal, a fundamental lack of proper fiscal oversight cost the state dearly in terms of money and trust. Every time an agency or department engages in a fiscal sleight of hand, our citizens pay the price.
Two bills moving through the Legislature will address this issue. Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 2484 are designed to promote transparency, increase accountability, and improve state budget-making by creating offices within the Legislature to review agency spending and expenditures.
From basic civics, we know the legislative branch holds the power of the purse under the Oklahoma Constitution. But for generations, this power has been undermined by a lack of tools to faithfully exercise this power and duty.
No successful business in the long term can operate in this manner. Without the proper mechanisms to audit and analyze spending, a business will likely fail. Unlike a business, government often lacks the motivation to question and thoroughly analyze spending.
These bills will grant our lawmakers the power to do one of their most important jobs: oversight of state spending.
Gov. Kevin Stitt and legislative leadership are working diligently to bring transparency to government spending and remove inefficient spending. They made great progress when Stitt signed a series of bills giving the governor the power and authority to appoint directors of a few of the state’s largest agencies.
While direct appointment authority is a vital part of our executive branch, without the authority to review and analyze agency spending, Oklahoma’s government will be out of sync, unable to accomplish the duty of transparent, accountable government.
Now that we’ve given the head of Oklahoma’s executive branch the power to appoint effective leaders, it is time to give our state Legislature the power to review and analyze executive branch agencies to ensure they are using taxpayer funds effectively. Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 2484 will accomplish just that.
Lance is secretary of commerce for the Chickasaw Nation. Nichols is chairman emeritus of Devon Energy Corporation. They are co-chairs of OK2030, a business-led initiative to move Oklahoma forward.