Feb 12, 2014 – As part of a comprehensive re-assessment of internal rules and structures to promote public confidence in the top law office of the state, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes applauded the recommendations of an audit performed by the Office of the State Auditor regarding use of vehicles assigned to employees within the AG’s office.
“Our office appreciates the careful and detailed report from Auditor Dougall’s team. It is exactly what we were seeking when we requested the audit. We have already taken certain actions related to the report and are formulating protocols to address issues raised therein,” said AG Reyes. “The use of state vehicles in our office is necessary for investigative and other law enforcement purposes and frankly saves lives and protects families. But, such use is a great privilege and cannot be abused. The Auditor’s report highlights certain practices we suspected were not in strict compliance with state rules. We sought outside agency review to avoid any appearance of favoritism in the results.”
Attorney General Reyes will continually enforce compliance. “To the extent we have too many vehicles, the surplus will be returned to the State fleet for use by another agency. With the remaining vehicles, we will enforce strict compliance with governing rules. Rules pertaining to vehicle use have not been clearly communicated nor consistently applied in the past.” The report also pointed out a specific case of previous administrative oversight that has been corrected. “One of our most valuable and conscientious prosecutors in the office, Chief Robert Steed, was following instructions he had been given by previous administrations, yet the current audit found him in technical breach. I am confident Chief Steed did not use the vehicle for personal gain and he gladly complied with all regulations once they were clarified.”
According to Reyes, the vehicle audit is just one initial step in a top to bottom assessment of the AG office and past policies. “My executive team and I are committed to reviewing every leadership position, every program and every structure within the office to ensure we are as efficient and effective as possible. While there is so much going well in the office, we have discovered some insufficient policies,” he said. “Where we find inadequate rules, we will replace them with higher standards. Where there are adequate rules laxly or inconsistently applied, we will be consistent. Where there is a lack of training and clear understanding of rules and expectations, we will prioritize training and accountability.”
Reyes confirmed today that the new leadership is instituting training for new employees as well as office-wide training. “This will bring uniformity and clarity to important ethics issues such as: acceptance of gifts from outside parties, preservation of documents and email and proper use of state time and resources, including vehicles,” said AG Reyes. “Compliance with our new protocols will help avoid actual or perceived conflicts-of-interest and protect our own employees as well as the public.”
Attorney General Reyes has asked the State Auditor to further assist the Attorney General’s Office by performing client satisfaction surveys with the dozens of state agencies and organizations the office represents in legal matters. “This, along with internal surveys, management interviews and reverse evaluations by all employees in the office will give us a clearer picture of how to allocate resources and which leaders are effective and which may need replacing,” said Reyes.