Howle concludes in the audit - the first
conducted under new legislation which enabled the bar to get
back on its feet following a virtual shutdown in 1998-99.
Howle lauded the "good stewardship" of
mandatory fees, noting that the bar recognized it had an operating
surplus - mostly from staff vacancies following the shutdown - and
voluntarily lowered its year 2001 dues by $50 from the $395 authorized
by the legislature. She also pointed out that the bar has
significantly raised the amount it can charge offending attorneys for
costs involving their own discipline, but admonished the bar for poor
cost recovery in this area and said it is one element of the
discipline system which needs improvement.
"We have worked hard over this past year
to rebuild the bar by building a budget from the bottom up,
monitoring all of our expenses and putting
in place procedures which provide a full accounting of
every member dollar spent," said bar President Palmer Madden.
He noted that, in addition to cost recovery from disciplined
attorneys, the auditor pointed out only a handful of problems,
mostly involving procedural steps with contracts and bidding.
While the auditor pointed out these problems, she also noted that by
implementing the purchasing card system and contractual procedures,
the bar has improved its policies for the overall procurement
of goods and services. The State Bar has "established a purchasing
card system that has strengthened controls over travel and minor
business expenses," Howle noted, "and it has enhanced controls
over its contracting practices by establishing competitive bidding