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Waste watch: Who is looking out for mismanagement and taxpayer waste in Alabama?

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Waste watch: Who is looking out for mismanagement and taxpayer waste in Alabama? (IMG:WPMI)

Last night we told you about guns and other taxpayer-funded items coming up missing in state audit reports, but those trying to hold people accountable have extremely limited power. NBC 15's Andrea Ramey found a much more aggressive approach next door in Mississippi.

This month alone Mississippi's auditor has identified alarming mismanagement practices with a state board, forced a company to pay back hundreds of thousands of tax dollars for not meeting an economic development agreement and found a county clerk who used tax dollars to tithe at her church.

"If folks choose not to do the right thing, we're going to hold them accountable," said Mississippi Auditor Shad White in profile piece this summer.

But you're hard pressed to find those kind of headlines from the department in Alabama tasked with auditing towns, counties and boards. It's an agency you may not have even heard of: the Examiners of Public Accounts.

"That's going to change," said Rep. Chris Pringle.

Pringle has fought for change for years on this front. Last year, gaining ground with his bill that gives the examiner's office more teeth.

"We're going to shine the light on some expenditures. It's not going to be pretty. But we're going to put it all on the table and let the taxpayers see how they're money is being spent," said Pringle

In years past, Pringle says, many audits were rubber-stamped. They were compliance audits, not performance audits that would expose agencies wasting your tax dollars by doing things like buying too many cars or renting too much office space.

"It needed to be updated," said Pringle.

While he has no authority to look at the books, current Alabama Auditor is exposing tax payer funded property that turns up stolen or just plain lost, but he says he can't do much about it.

"We need to fix that so the auditor can enforce their own audits," said Auditor Jim Zeigler.

The state auditor says he will be going to lawmakers this upcoming session requesting that his office be given more power to hold state employees accountable.