New Mexico knocked for slow pace of financial data

GIDDY UP: A state accounting watchdog group rapped New Mexico for its slow response time for financial data but the state says the criticism is unfair.

By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog

SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico is a slow poke when it comes to turning in its financial disclosures, but the state agency in charge of the data argues a sarcastic award from a fiscally conservative accounting group is unfair.

“Truth in Accounting is bestowing the annual Tortoise Award on New Mexico — again,” wrote Sheila Weinberg, CEO and founder of Truth in Accounting, last week.

Based in Chicago, Truth in Accounting bills itself as a resource for taxpayers to understand what it calls “the truth about government finances.”

Earlier this year, Truth in Accounting produced a report illustrating New Mexico’s overreliance on federal dollars. Between 1992 and 2012, the group’s findings showed, New Mexico’s share of federal money as part of state revenue increased a whopping 63.3 percent — a growth rate that was No. 1 in the country.

This time, Truth in Accounting knocked the state for going more than 450 days since releasing its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, which states submit each fiscal year.

“New Mexico has missed the standard release deadline of 180 days after fiscal year end four years in a row,” Weinberg wrote.

But the Department of Finance and Administration, contacted by New Mexico Watchdog, said the criticism is unfair, citing the state’s long and frustrating problems with the Statewide Human Resources Accounting and Management Reporting System, called SHARE, that was rolled out in 2006.

The system has had a long history or troubles properly matching fund balances shown by state agencies with cash in the state’s bank accounts.

“We identified the issue in October 2011, and our staff has been working diligently since then to correct it,” DFA spokesman and records custodian Tim Korte wrote in an email. “Since mid-2013, we have been able to guarantee the accuracy of the books going forward. Meanwhile, we continue to work to reconcile hundreds of thousands of transactions going back to 2006.”

Korte said DFA has provided regular updates to the Legislative Finance Committee and is working on developing an audited Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the first time.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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