Reading Iowa Code Shows State Auditor A More Optimistic Path

(photo by Jennifer Nichols)

Rob Sand, Iowa State Auditor, visited Atlantic on Tuesday morning as part of a series of town hall visits, and did the same in Audubon following the Atlantic visit.

ATLANTIC – Rob Sand’s world view was starting to darken, but he found a more optimistic path after reading the Iowa Code.

The Iowa State Auditor was in Atlantic Tuesday, and after his stop there, traveled to Audubon, talking to constituents about what he and others have been working on in the auditor’s office. That conversation lead to a story about his life as a prosecutor, and the unusual thing that lead him to the auditor’s office.

“When was I thinking about running (for state auditor), I’d sort of hit this point where, six years into criminal prosecution, I was starting to darken my world view a little bit,” he said. “By the time you’re looking at a case as a prosecutor you’re only dealing with the worse things that people can do to each other, right? If you’re police officer, you’re going to get a chance to go help somebody out at an accident, or maybe get a cat down out of a tree, or help a lost kid help find their parent. You can do good things there. By the time it’s coming to you as a prosecutor, just bad stuff. And the only thing you can do every day is basically get up and go mitigate bad stuff, you can’t actually make it better. And as I was thinking and realizing that I wanted to do something with a more positive impact, and do something a little bit optimistic, (I started reading a section of Iowa Code).”

He said he learned that the state auditor’s office has “a much broader mission that really goes to everything that we do together in our own government, and that is promoting efficiency and effectiveness in government.”

He said thinking that he was, “sitting there in my job that was taking something terrible and making it less bad,” and then reading about something that seemed more optimistic, “was really exciting” to Sands.

Now working in the auditor’s office, he and staff there have created a new program, the Public Innovations and Efficiency program or PIE program, which would show what the different counties are doing in relation to “basic good practices for saving tax payer money,” in a check list form online. After a year, Sands said he would start a PIE contest, showing which counties were improving their practices, and celebrating with actual pie, and finally, creating a “PIE Recipes” to place online so that county officials with good financial practices could explain those practices. Other county officials could study that information, and see if they could apply that practice to their own counties, even going so far as to being able to contact someone to discuss how the practice was implemented.