NEWPORT CITY – The state auditor’s office needs more transparency and more accountability, said Democrat Doug Hoffer who is challenging Vince Illuzzi for the position of state auditor in November.
“I think people have the right to expect that the auditor’s office audit itself," Hoffer said. “Right now, if you were curious about the auditor’s budget, you could never find the details because he doesn’t post them.”
Hoffer stressed that current auditor Tom Salmon, who is not seeking reelection, does not keep the information a secret and will provide it upon request.
This isn’t Hoffer’s first attempt at the position. He ran unsuccessfully against Salmon in 2010.
Hoffer has been a self-employed policy analyst for 19 years. Prior to that, he worked at the Burlington City Hall when Bernie Sanders was mayor. Hoffer came to Vermont in 1988, fresh out of law school, to do policy work. Hoffer has a B.A. from Williams College and a J.D. from SUNY Buffalo Law School.
The Peace and Justice Center in Burlington was one of Hoffer’s early clients. He wrote the Job Gap Study for them. The study had 10 different phases that included the concept of a livable wage in Vermont. Hoffer feels the study lead to the discourse about wages. It also lead to the indexed minimum wage and increased earned income tax credit.
Hoffer worked under contract for the State Auditor’s Office, which at the time was run by Ed Flanagan. At that time, the Government Accounting Standards Board told auditors around the country that it’s fine, necessary and important to track the money, but there is more to it and they needed to start thinking about doing performance auditing.
“That started in the mid ‘90s and I did some of the work for Ed,” said Hoffer, who continued to do that type of work in his consulting business. “I’m good at it; I’m a numbers guy. I have the skill set and experience that is the perfect thing for this job.”
Hoffer said he has a talent for identifying and asking tough questions. He said all of his work has been evidence-based and it is important to not go beyond the data and to recognize limitations. Hoffer has a passion for challenging conventional wisdom.
The law does not authorize the state auditor to deal with municipal finances, Hoffer said. If asked, he or she can provide some assistance. In Hoffer’s opinion, the best thing a state auditor can do is work with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns and provide a framework and training. However, Hoffer would like to help if he can, but it needs to be a measured response.
Hoffer feels he's had a decent career and made a difference and that he can do more in the Office of State Auditor and has the ability to raise the bar. He also said he’s known in policy circles, but that is different than being known in electoral political circles.
Hoffer, 61, said he’s not looking to use the office as a stepping stone for a career in politics. Instead, he is looking to do the job well.