Denver, Colo.- Mississippi State Auditor Stacey E. Pickering was the only state official from across the country to receive the prestigious David M. Walker Excellence in Government Performance and Accountability Award for 2014.
This national award is presented once every two years to three auditors from the public sector accountability community who represent federal, state, and local government.
Gene Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO)- the federal auditing agency- presented the awards at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver during the 20th Biennial Forum of Government Auditors.
In announcing Pickering’s selection, Berri Davis, director of the Financial Management and Assurance Division of the GAO, said Pickering took the position of State Auditor in 2008 to make a difference in government operations, improve the public’s ability to understand how it works, and help government leaders make better decisions. “He has worked hard to bridge gaps, create partnerships, reduce fraud and waste, and assist government entities in being better prepared,” Davis said.
In his six years as Auditor, Pickering’s office has recovered more than $21 million in embezzled, misspent, or misappropriated funds. According to Rutgers University’s Center for Public Integrity, Mississippi is 6th in the nation in the enforcement of public corruption laws. Additionally, the Office of the State Auditor’s (OSA) Investigative Division has 57 outstanding indictments and 135 more individuals have pled guilty or been convicted during that time. Twenty-four public and elected officials have been removed from office through felony convictions due to OSA investigations or they were terminated or compelled to resign due to OSA investigations.
Pickering was recognized for his work with the Mississippi Legislature to modify laws that improved OSA oversight ability and that improved accountability to taxpayers related to:
- Auditing the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the new BP Oil Spill RESTORE Act;
- State economic development programs and projects that use state funds;
- Education accountability measures to improve the accuracy of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program formula;
- His efforts to improve the work of his agency’s Investigative Division.
In accepting the award, Pickering said, “The citizens of Mississippi are beneficiaries of this recognition by the National Intergovernmental Audit Forum. It represents six years of work by the Auditor’s staff to strengthen laws to protect taxpayer money and hold government officials accountable with a zero tolerance for public corruption.”
This is the second major award that the Auditor’s office has received in the past three years. In 2012, Pickering received the National State Auditor’s Association’s “National Excellence in Accountability Award” for his work on ARRA accountability and oversight.
The National Intergovernmental Audit Forum, created in 1973, is an association of audit executives from federal, state and local governments. It exists to improve coordination, communication, and cooperation among its members, private sector firms, and other accountability organizations to address common challenges, increase public trust, and enhance government performance, accountability, and transparency.