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Business skills needed in government, state auditor tells students

Ohio Auditor Dave Yost with members of Bob Patton’s advanced placement government class at Westlake High School. (Photo credit: Kim Bonvissuto/Westlake City Schools)

By Kevin Kelley

Westlake

Students interested in pursuing careers in politics are better off majoring in business and similar subjects than in political science, Ohio Auditor Dave Yost told Westlake High School students Friday.

Yost was visiting the administrative offices of the Westlake City Schools to present Treasurer Mark Pepera and his staff with the Auditor of State award for the district’s fourth straight perfect audit.

“Everything about politics and government has components just like business,” Yost told students from Bob Patton’s Advanced Placement government class. “Everything you have to do to run a business, you have to do in a political campaign. And, frankly, everything that you have to do in government, you also have to learn in business.”

Yost advised students to learn in-demand skills rather than spend time studying the theory of political science.

Yost, who graduated from The Ohio State University, said his journalism degree from that school did not help him much in his governmental career. The former reporter said he went to law school after the newspaper he worked for ceased publication.

Westlake City Schools Treasurer Mark Pepera receives the Auditor of State award from Ohio Auditor Dave Yost Friday. (West Life photo by Kevin Kelley)

The former Delaware County prosecuting attorney told students that regional efforts to share services among cities and school districts are “the wave of the future” as budgets shrink. The auditor’s office frequently suggests ways to share services in its performance audits, Yost said.

However, Yost said, not all combined programs are necessarily good for taxpayers. “Not every shared service, not every merger, makes sense,” he said. Regional programs might not fulfill the promise of reducing costs if tough financial decisions are avoided, he explained.

Governments need to constantly re-evaluate how they spend money, Yost said. For example, the auditor’s office has discontinued publishing hard copies of audits in favor of electronic versions, he explained.

In response to a question from school board member Nate Cross, Yost noted that the audit declares that the district’s financial statements are accurate, well-maintained and honest.

“But what it doesn’t show is, are the dollars being spent as efficiently as they could be or as wisely as they could be,” Yost said. “Those are policy questions for the board.”

Upon invitation, the state auditor’s office conducts performance audits that measure efficiency, Yost noted.

Yost complimented the district on its excellent rating on the state report card. “You must be doing some things very right there,” the state auditor said.

 

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