GALLIPOLIS — Exploring downtown, meeting with constituents and enjoying local dining is how Ohio Auditor of State Keith Faber (R) spent Thursday in Gallipolis.
Faber took office as the state auditor in 2019, formerly serving as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives,
“We’re going to go to the Farm Bureau lunch to hear what policies they’re working on, talk to them probably a little bit about things we do in the auditor’s office,” Faber said. “We’re going to meet with the county commissioners and some local elected officials as well and then we’re going to go to a dinner here tonight for the local party.”
Faber also met with officials in Meigs County during his visit.
Faber said while his job is not one with constant change in plans, it is an important job to help the people and ensure tax dollars are being spent appropriately.
The American Rescue Act has brought local communities payments nearing 50-100% of the annual budget. Faber said the office was already doing basic audits on the state’s entities but have increased them to regular audits to ensure the extra money is being spent properly.
“We try and work to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse and figure out how to do things better, faster, cheaper.”
Faber said his office – which employees about 800 people across 11 locations in the state – audits the 600 government entities of Ohio with approximately 4,800 yearly audits ranging from library boards to state agencies.
“I always say, we don’t audit individuals, we audit government,” Faber said. “So, our job is to be the public’s watchdog on people who spend your tax dollars.”
Faber said his office has no part in setting rules and regulations on how money is dispensed, but it is his job to make sure the rules, usually made by the federal government, are being followed.
State and federal regulations change often, Faber said. Because of this his office is also a support agency for local governments with trainings and general support to help when needed.
“I’ve got a team of people that follow what the rules are from day to day, and they [rules] change like some people change their socks every day. It can be very confusing for local government,” Faber said.
While Faber’s team stays busy, he said he could not do it without the community’s help.
“That’s where most of our investigations come from. We investigate everything,” Faber said. “People can do it confidentially; you can be a confidential informant. We like you to give your name so we can get back to you to follow up.”
Faber said anyone can report suspicious activity or suggest helpful tips. He said it is important for citizens to know where to report suspicious behavior, when it comes to government money.
“At any given time, I have about 150 criminal investigations going on,” Faber said. “I’ve got a criminal division – men and women with badges and guns – and three full-time special prosecutors. 80% of those investigations come from referrals, come from tips. And so, if you see something going on in government, something you don’t think looks right; something you think can be done faster, cheaper, better; or whether you think somebody is lying, cheating, stealing. The best way to do that is to report it to us.”
Faber said his staff takes reports seriously and will investigate and prosecute when warranted.
Faber added, he takes pride in working for the community and will continue to do so.
“That’s what we do. Our job is to keep an eye on your money,” Faber said.
To report suspicious behavior, visit ohioauditor.gov or call the reporting hotline at 1-866-fraud-OH.
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Brittany Hively is a freelance writer and graduate of Marshall University, with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and journalism.