SC State Agencies Wants to Keep Portions of Budgets Secret


Thirteen state agencies are trying to keep portions of their budgets secret because, they say, releasing the information could compromise criminal investigations or invade people's privacy, reports the State. No one can review money in exempted accounts other than officials at the affected agency and the state's auditor, according to Les Boles, director of the Office of State Budget. That makes state Treasurer Curtis Loftis, a Republican, uneasy. “It is just bad policy to have some Bernie Madoff situation where nobody looks over your shoulder,” said Loftis.

A state budget rule requires agencies to disclose records of any bank account that is outside of the state's normal accounting system, exempting only state universities. However, the rule allows agencies to apply to the state Budget and Control Board for an exemption if “release of the information would be detrimental to the state or agency.” The budget board discusses the exemption requests in a closed-to-the-public meeting but votes on them in public. Thirteen state agencies have requested exemptions for 65 accounts. The requests include exemptions routinely granted to the State Law Enforcement Division and the attorney general's office for accounts dealing with undercover officers and confidential informants. But they also include requests from the departments of Motor Vehicles, Consumer Affairs and the governor's office.

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