Agencies That Miss Budget Request Deadline Face No Real Consequence

  • Joe Wertz

The state budget process in Oklahoma begins at the agency level.

By Oct. 1 each year, state statutes mandate that most state agencies file an itemized request with the Office of State Finance showing the amount of money needed for the following fiscal year.

Fifty-nine agencies, authorities, boards and commissions didn’t file requests on time this year, according to OSF records.

The consequence for missing the deadline?

The teacher puts their names on the board, basically.

The names of the agencies that miss the budget request filing deadline are put on a list, which is sent to the Governor, the Senate President Pro Tempore and the House Speaker by Oct. 5.

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/263264-2011-missed-deadlines-list.html

But it’s not quite that simple, said Brandy Manek, Deputy Director of Budget and Policy for the OSF. The electronic filing system used by her department allows agencies to mark budget requests as either “complete” or in “working” status.

“The list we send is based on any agency that still has their operational funding changes in a ‘working’ status,” she said. “It’s not whether or not they’ve requested something, it’s whether they’ve submitted something electronically as ‘complete.'”

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Oklahoma Statutes

Section 62-34.36. — Estimate of funds needed.

A. On the first day of October preceding each regular session of the Legislature, each state agency, including those created or established pursuant to constitutional provisions, shall report to the Director of the Office of State Finance and the Chair and Vice Chair of the Legislative Oversight Committee on State Budget Performance an itemized request showing the amount needed for the ensuing fiscal year beginning with the first day of July.

F.  The Director of the Office of State Finance shall submit to the Governor and the Legislative Oversight Committee on State Budget Performance no later than the fifth day of October a complete list of all spending agencies which have failed to submit budgets by October 1.

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This year’s missed deadline list contains agencies that range in size and budgetary needs. On one end are entities like the state Peanut Commission and the Board of Alcohol and Drug Counselors. There are larger agencies on the list, too, like the departments of Labor, Wildlife and Environmental Quality.

Many agencies that missed the Oct. 1 deadline have since filed budgets. Some agencies, like the State Regents for Higher Education, aren’t required to file budget requests with OSF, said department spokesman Ron Jenkins.

Scott Meacham, who served as OSF Director from 2003-2005, said while agencies often didn’t meet the Oct. 1 deadline, finance officials and analysts always had the agency requests “when they really needed them.”

“It was never, ‘My gosh, we can’t work on this agency’s budget because we don’t have the information,” said Meacham, who’s now with the State Chamber and the Crowe & Dunlevy law firm.

The OSF follows up with agencies that don’t file timely budgets, Manek said. The OSF works with the Governor’s Office to prepare the Executive Budget, which is submitted to the Legislature in February.

The biggest incentive for agencies to meet the Oct. 1 deadline isn’t the law itself, Manek said.

“If we don’t know what we’re requesting for your appropriation it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to get it,” she said.