At midnight on October 1, the post of auditor will become vacant. Maine law requires that the state auditor be certified as a public accountant, internal auditor, or information systems auditor. When Matt Dunlap was elected state auditor on December 2, 2020 by the Maine legislature, he did not have those credentials. Maine law gave him nine months from January 4, 2021, when he was sworn in, to receive these credentials.
Dunlap chose to seek credentials for internal auditors, but failed to obtain them before the nine-month deadline. He sent a letter to President of the Senate Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) on October 1, informing Jackson that the auditor’s post was vacant and that he had to appoint a successor to be confirmed by the legislature the next time it would meet. Until then, Melissa B. Perkins, the deputy auditor, will take Dunlap’s place.
According to Dunlap’s letter to Jackson, the rigorous schedule of internal auditor certification exams and COVID-19 presented “unforeseen challenges.”
Obtaining internal auditor credentials requires passing a series of three exams. These exams are monitored and administered at Pearson VUE testing centers, which have two locations in Maine. In his letter to Jackson, Dunlap said concerns about COVID-19 were limiting the number of available test dates, which delayed the start of his first test date until May. A technological glitch necessitated that this date be extended to May 21, four months after the start of the nine-month period Dunlap had to obtain credentials.
Dunlap said he failed the five-question exam, which requires a score of at least 80%. Under the rules of the Institute of Internal Auditors, Dunlap could not retake the exam for 60 days. The limited availability of test dates meant he couldn’t take the first test until August 7. Dunlap passed the exam on his second attempt.
He was able to schedule his second exam for September 18 and his third exam for September 25. With these dates close to the early October deadline, Dunlap had to pass every exam on its first attempt. However, he failed the second exam with four questions and the third exam with one question.
Although he missed the deadline to receive state auditor diplomas, forcing him to step down as state auditor, Dunlap said he would retake the second and third examinations and that he would continue to obtain the diplomas of internal auditor. He said he was “extremely confident” that he would pass and achieve certification.
Despite his lack of credentials, Dunlap described his tenure as state auditor as having unfolded “transparently”.
“I was fortunate to have many years of experience as a public administrator behind me when I arrived here, and the assembled team of the State Auditor’s Office are some of the most capable people. and the most dedicated with whom I have had the privilege of serving. The management team is tireless and auditors in all their specialties are intellectually curious and dedicated to their job of assuring their fellow citizens that the programs created by the Legislative Assembly and Congress are being carried out according to their intention, ” Dunlap said in his letter to Jackson.
The legislature is expected to meet again for its second session in January. Unless it holds an extraordinary session before that date, it is likely that a new auditor will be confirmed next year.
Dunlap’s full letter to Senate Speaker Jackson can be read here.