Government Accountability Report - January 2024

Chairman Marcotte introduced Representative Brumsted as Co-Chair of the Government Accountability Committee along with Senator Brock. Brumsted shared with the House Commerce Committee that she has served in the Legislature nearly eight years and she was partly responsible for “sunsetting the previous committee” as the statutory authority was not sufficient.

Last year the Government Operations Committee began looking into these issues but ran out of time during the year and so opted for a Summer Study Committee.

One thing that was pointed out is looking back at previous legislation for review before enacting new statutes in order to attain a real understanding of current laws and what policy mechanisms were effective.

There was also a recommendation to create a “process” to allow legislators “follow up on the previous year’s budget bills and historical data.” The idea is that using new Joint Fiscal Office (JFO) accountability staff, legislators could “better examine whether past funds have been spent as intended.”

Brumsted is particularly excited about a proposed performance note which she claims “differs much” from the fiscal note legislators are used to seeing on legislation. She noted that New Mexico has a robust Office of Accountability and have a LegiStat system that asks a lot of questions about the flows of monies and intent of legislation. This like does it happen as intended and in a timely way to address the intended issue.

Representative Mulvaney-Stanak asks about what should be considered for “benchmarks” that can be built into any bill up front to create the accountability and standards, she wondered how they get a process built to track funding streams and policy effects. A lengthy discussion ensued among the committee about what measures could be tracked and how to do it. There were concerns about how much could be demanded from the Executive Branch.

Brumsted thought they had a right to ask whether legislative intent was being carried out, but also whether it is in fact having the intended defect.

Consensus formed that staffing should be added somewhere, but they are unsure of where just yet. There was also interest in including contractors in the performance data for future reference.

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