Rep. Tom Gann: Set a tone of transparency, integrity

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Oklahoma State Rep. Tom Gann, one of the votes against the proposed tax increase package, analyzes the state budget crisis from his perspective as an auditor.

Oklahoma House of Representatives Communications & Public Affairs Nov. 9, 2017

Contact: State Rep. Tom Gann
Office: (405) 557-7364

Tone at the Top
By Rep. Tom Gann

When referencing fraud prevention, auditors use the catchphrase tone at the top. It refers to an organization's ethical climate, its integrity - set by its leaders.

To set an effective internal control environment, auditors have to assess an organization's tone at the top. Do leaders show a commitment to honesty, integrity and ethical behavior, or do they pursue winning at all costs? Are they transparent, or do they hide what they are doing behind closed doors?

As a former auditor myself, I find myself now in government assessing the tone at the top as I learn more and more each day of the shell game being played with government money.

A perfect example of what I'm talking about is the state Department of Health. A recent news story says that the agency "employed a series of accounting tricks to provide the illusion of a balanced budget," but has in fact spent more than its annual revenues since 2011.

I'm afraid the health department is only the first indicator of a much deeper problem in our state. If this agency could get away with this for six years, how many other agencies are using similar tactics? We won't know until we begin an audit of each recipient of state appropriations.

First, however, we must examine our tone at the top. If the Legislature itself thumbs its nose at the rules it establishes and enacts legislation that is clearly unconstitutional, why would we expect more from our state agencies?

Laws lose effectiveness when people ignore them.

When the Legislature funds pet projects and protects special interests, why would we expect our agencies to perform differently?

On the other hand, if we set a tone of transparency, and we uphold ethical behavior from the top down, then our agencies would be more inclined to do the same. We as legislators need to be above board and set a tone of integrity. We should be able then to expect the same from our agencies.

We must raise the standard for ourselves as lawmakers first. If we're going to point fingers at our agencies, we need to first look at ourselves.

Once we can stop engineering the crisis, we can manage it.

Tom Gann serves Oklahoma House District 8. He can be reached by phone at (405) 557-7364 or by email at

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 9, 2017 5:29 PM.

Sen. Nathan Dahm: "Where are the reforms?" was the previous entry in this blog.

Rep. George Faught: House measure fills the budget hole is the next entry in this blog.

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