Minnesota’s Office of the Legislative Auditor

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State auditor clarifies intent: Make ‘minority councils’ better, more effective

Legislature, governor’s office partly to blame for problems
Second  of a  three-part story


By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer


In last week’s issue of the MSR, we detailed the points made by the Minnesota’s Office of the Legislative Auditor’s (OLA) in their annual audit of the four “minority councils” in Minnesota (See MSR April 3-9, “Audit questions need for Council on Black Minnesotans”). The report released last month, which was critical of the councils’ effectiveness, also included criticism of the governor’s office and the legislature which the councils report to. In response, Council on Black Minnesotans (COBM) Executive Director Edward McDonald said the report “appears to be nothing more than a veiled attempt to stymie the Council on Black Minnesotans’ civic engagement and the promotion of strong human rights enforcement in Minnesota.” The MSR subsequently spoke with State Auditor James Nobles at length about the four options the report offered to restructure the councils, which are:

1. “Maintain the four councils, but clarify their primary purposes; require them to adopt strategic plans, develop policies and procedures, and work more substantively with state agencies; and encourage them to become more involved in the appointments process and better communicate with the public;

2. “Restructure the councils by placing them under the [State] Department of Human Rights and requiring them to adopt certain operational changes;

3. Continue Reading →

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Audit questions need for Council on Black Minnesotans

Council director calls the report ‘flawed,’ its recommendations ‘a disgrace’
By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer


Earlier this month, Minnesota’s Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) released its annual audit of the four “minority councils” in Minnesota. These councils — identified by the OLA audit as the “Councils on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, Black Minnesotans, Chicano/Latino People, and Indian Affairs” — were created between 1963 and 1985 by the State of Minnesota. They are, also according to the audit, “primarily charged with advising policy makers and serving as a liaison to state government.”

The audit report was somewhat critical of the councils. Following are conclusions from the audit of the councils:

• “Overall, there is little evidence that the state’s four minority councils have been effective advisors or liaisons to state policy makers

• “The councils have not been adequately integrated into state policy making

• Statutes set forth various duties [for] the councils…but the councils’ overall purposes are unclear

• “…the councils have done a poor job setting specific objectives and identifying outcome measures to assess the impact of their activities

• “There has been ‘little substantive collaboration among’ the councils

• “Communication between the councils and the organizations that work with their constituents has been inadequate”

The audit was also very careful to note that not all problems concerning the councils were with the councils themselves. The governor’s office and the legislature, under whose auspices the councils exist and operate, drew

criticism as well. Continue Reading →

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