Living in Society

State Auditor Rob Sand Speaks… Briefly

State Auditor Rob Sand and State Senator Janet Petersen waiting to go on stage at the Zach Wahls birthday fundraiser in rural Iowa on July 14, 2019

State Auditor Rob Sand spoke at the Zach Wahls birthday fundraiser in rural Johnson County on July 14. He was brief.

Sand’s brevity is becoming a feature of his political tenure. Those of us who hear a lot of political speeches appreciate his willingness to be brief, be brilliant, and then be done.

Blog for Iowa wanted to hear more from Sand so we asked him to participate in a questionnaire via email. He said yes. The questions and Sand’s responses follow, published without significant editing.

BFIA: What do you feel is most important about the first six months of your tenure as auditor? Why?

Sand: In just six months we have accomplished a lot of what we set out to do during the campaign. The office has never promoted efficiency, which I said I would do. Our new PIE initiative (public innovations and efficiencies) will do just that. In addition, very soon we have two individuals with law-enforcement experience starting in the office. I campaigned on the need for professional diversity in the office, and we are making it happen.

BFIA: In my previous article I pointed out the municipality that was dissatisfied with your predecessor’s annual audit of their books. How do you view the role of the state auditor’s office in helping counties and municipalities meet their statutory audit and financial review needs?

Sand: The most significant departure under my time in office will be that we will begin providing real assistance on efficiency and innovation. Historically, the office has not used its ability to do that. That changes now. We should always be doing everything we can to save taxpayer money.

BFIA: I noticed you are a hunter. How did that become a feature of your public appearances as auditor. What is your view of how Iowa DNR expends resources to support hunting and wildlife in the state?

Sand: I believe that most Iowans are interested in not just policy but also who you are as a person. I grew up hunting and fishing with my dad and still do it today, so it is a way for people to get to know me a little bit. Plus, there are endless puns is to be made about finding bucks.

While I have not done a specific review of DNR in my six months in office, I can tell you that the state needs to do a better job supporting hunting and fishing generally. There were a number of bills last year which were harming the ability to add public land for hunting or any other use.

BFIA: What do you like best about the job? Least?

Sand: Compared to prosecuting financial crime, which I was doing for seven years prior, it’s great to be able to wake up in the morning and work on making systems work better, and preventing bad before it happens. Prosecuting by its nature is entirely reacting to bad after it happens.

As for my least favorite part, I’m sure if I were a better politician I would tell you that every single moment is an honor. But since I’m honest, the part I like least are the trite and formalistic aspects of being an office executive from a paperwork and sign-off perspective. I prefer to dive in and do real work.

BFIA: What areas in state government seem ready to improve from an auditor’s viewpoint? Explain.

We are always on the lookout to make government more honest, operate with better integrity, and improve accountability. We also want to see improved efficiency. That applies to every part of government, and as soon as we stop looking for it or asking for it in one part, that’s where it will be needed most!

BFIA: What is your hope for the future of the state, from a personal standpoint.

Sand: I think we need a better focus on putting the public first. Partisanship needs to take a backseat.

A brief biography of Rob Sand can be found on his Wikipedia Page here.

~ Written for Blog for Iowa