In an effort to help voters make an informed decision this Nov., the Capital-Star will be doing Q&A’s with all four candidates for the Office of the Auditor General, a statewide position currently held by Eugene DePasquale.
We’re kicking things off with Dauphin County Controller Tim DeFoor, the Republican nominee.
What is the role of the auditor general?
DeFoor: Well, think of the role of the Auditor General as your as your state fiscal watchdog. And basically what that is, the auditor general is responsible for making sure that government is accountable for how it spends taxpayer dollars, and to make government transparent with regards to how it also spends those tax dollars.
So, it pretty much acts as the fiscal watchdog for the state, and you watch how money is being spent with regards to – could be different state departments, it could be different state programs, it could be state funded programs … That’s the primary role of the auditor general.
If you’re elected, what are your top three priorities to address as auditor general?
DeFoor: Well, there’s a couple of them. One, how are COVID-19 funds being spent? You know, the state is receiving billions of dollars from the federal government. And it’s being given to local governments. It’s being given to businesses to help the local governments stay afloat, and also to help local businesses also stay afloat. So, my question is, how is that money, money being spent? … So what are the requirements of how those funds are to be dispersed to who they’re to be given to? And are they in compliance with the CARES Act. And that’s something that I’m doing right now in Dauphin County. Dauphin County is to receive $25 million in CARES Act funding. And my position as Dauphin County controller is to make sure that those funds are distributed and accounted for in the way in which the law states that they’re to be distributed and to be spent.
Another one … is what’s going on with our long-term care facilities, our nursing homes. And especially when you’re talking about COVID in here in Dauphin County, 90 percent of the COVID-19 deaths happened in long-term care facilities in this county.
So, are we using the same type of care and restrictions that are being applied to hospitals? What funding are they receiving from the federal government with regards to the CARES Act? And how are those funds being spent? I mean, quite frankly, when I was with the attorney general’s office, I actually investigated nursing homes. But I felt then, and I still feel now, that nursing homes aren’t adequately funded, or staffed.
And if you look at, let’s say, a hospital, if you look at a hospital, and the cost of health care has gone through the roof. And as far as the level of care, and the matter of planning that goes into nursing homes that really hasn’t kept up with the times that we currently live in. And one of the reasons being is that most of the most of the individuals in nursing homes are either Medicaid or Medicare [recipients]. And very little money is coming into the nursing homes from the state. So, you have to take a look at how are we caring for individuals in care facilities. Are they properly being funded? And are they being funded in a way that you’re putting the residents there, that obviously can’t take care of themselves., Are they being funded in the way in which you’re actually doing harm to them, not only doing harm to them, but also doing harm to the people that work there?. So, you have to make sure that they’re adequately staffed and adequately funded. And I’ve always felt that I still feel that’s the state’s responsibility. So, that would be that would be one of them.
And another one would be continual process improvements. And what I mean by that is that we look at this different state programs and initiatives that have taken place. And when you ever have any type of initiative, of course, it’s funded with taxpayer dollars.
Well, after that initiative is put into place, you have to go back maybe six months, or a year or two later, to see if that initiative is actually working. You could find a situation where it’s working fine, or you could find a situation where it definitely needs a tweak, maybe even an overhaul, or you could have a situation where it’s not working at all and needs to be scrapped.
But whenever there’s any types of initiatives that are put into place, you have to go back, you have to do quality management reviews to assure that our taxpayer dollars and just aren’t being spent. in a way that’s not wasteful.
So in that respect, you have to make the others accountable. And understand that look, just because you have this new initiative that’s taking place doesn’t mean that you can do with it what you would like to do with it. You have to be accountable, and the program has to be working. If not, then some other other measures have to be put in place.
What unique qualities/skills would you bring to the job?
DeFoor: I’ve been consistent throughout my entire career with regards to what I do. And that is to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent appropriately. Whether you know, it’s in healthcare, whether it’s with regards to contracting, or whether it’s with regards to the efficiencies of government, I’ve done that my entire career. I haven’t deviated and so that’s one of the things that, you know, that makes me uniquely qualified. I’ve done the type of work that the Auditor General does. And not only that, I’ve worked with the auditor general’s office in the past, I’m currently working with them now as the Dauphin County controller.
So, I’m very familiar with the ins and outs of how the office works inside and out and how it works with not only with other governmental agencies but how it works with others in the private sector. So I’m very, very familiar with it. This is what I do. That’s what I did. This is what I enjoy doing.
Why do you want to be Auditor General?
DeFoor: The commitment to the people of this commonwealth. I’ve lived a blessed life. And, you know, I’ve always felt my entire life, I’ve always been in a position to help others, whether it’s, you know, my day job, or whether it’s in my community. And so I’ve always, I’ve always done that, you know, some very, very heavily involved with my community always has been. So I always put myself in a position where I can be a service to others.
I know this is a political office, but I never saw myself as a politician, I consider myself a public servant. And, you know, the political process is the way to get into this position, so I’m going to get into the process.
But I feel it’s my public duty and my obligation to do this and to bring somebody into the office who is uniquely qualified, and somebody who has done the job, and wants to do the job. And I don’t have any other political ambitions. I really don’t. You know, so I just want to do that, when I do the jobs are the general, then that’s it. You’re not going to see me running for any other office.