COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina's State treasurer and auditors testified during a senate subcommittee meeting about a $3.5 billion dollar budget error.
It's been one week since Richard Eckstrom, the State Comptroller General spoke to a special senate subcommittee about a multimillion dollar reporting error that misstated the state's cash position by $3.5 billion. According to that testimony, money that was supposed to be given to colleges and universities was double counted, thus making it appear that the state had more cash in it's Annual Comprehensive Financial Reports (ACFR).
On Thursday, State Treasurer Curtis Loftis spoke to the subcommittee. He says his office was made aware of the mistake in late 2022, then, he explained his team began working with and meeting with the Comptroller General's office to address the error.
Loftis maintains that the issue was a reporting error and that no actual cash in the state's budget was impacted by the misstatement, but brought up concerns about communication between agencies and called for oversight on the state's finances to be a responsibility for the legislative branch.
"We know everybody in state government, county government, state government. Who wants to throw that flag up and say 'The county manager here is doing the books wrong, or the city manager there. Or DHEC is spending money - I'm just making this up - spending money incorrectly?' Nobody wants to be that guy, but we need to want to be that guy." He explains, "Oversight has got to come from the legislative branch, the executive branch is just not it."
After he spoke, Marcia Adams, the executive director of the Department of Administration testified about the state's financial software, South Carolina Enterprise Information System (SCEIS). In last week's meeting, Eckstrom said the mistake likely stemmed from the time period when the state moved from its old accounting software to SCEIS.
Adams testified that the program seemed to work fine, and in her eyes, human error is the sole issue to blame for the reporting mistake, an opposing stance to the one that Eckstrom made.
"I think it was just a misunderstanding of cash and how that cash is in SCEIS and how they use that information."
Though Eckstrom was not in the room Thursday, Senators voiced their concern over the timeliness of the Comptroller General's response and noted that they have still not been given an exact date for when his office found out about the mistake.
Both the State Auditor and a representative from CliftonLarsonAllen LLP, a third party auditor, gave brief remarks to the committee and were asked to submit more records and reports for investigation.
A time and date for the next meeting has not been set yet.