Geov thanks Tim Eyman for I-900, the ballot measure under which the scathing Port of Seattle performance audit was conducted, but I just have to point out that I-900 was largely redundant, a bit overreaching, and merely superseded a long fought for performance audit bill that had just been passed by the legislature the previous spring. Yes, it was by far the least toxic of Eyman’s measures, but it was unnecessary, and thus I don’t think Tim deserves any thanks at all.
My main complaint about the I-900 is that its effectiveness entirely depends on the willingness of the State Auditor to use it, and use it judiciously. Performance audits can be a bitch to comply with, yet require the full cooperation of the target agency if they are to achieve the stated goal of uncovering new efficiencies. If agency employees perceive an audit is being used punitively or politically, it can quickly become a waste of taxpayer money in itself. Under I-900 there is little or no oversight of the Auditor’s office, a failing that could undermine the entire process should the office become heavily politicized. One can easily see a partisan auditor using his power under I-900 to harass public agencies and influence the public debate.
That said, I have long supported performance audits in theory, so much so that I made the trek to Olympia to testify on behalf of the bill that eventually passed. In fact, I would like to see the practice taken even further by routinely subjecting tax “preferences” (you know… tax breaks, exemptions, loopholes, etc.) to the process. If Tim weren’t such a hypocrite, I’d expect him to join me in that quest. I’m not holding my breath.