At midnight on October 1, the position of state auditor will become vacant. Maine statute requires that the state auditor have certification as a public accountant, internal auditor, or information systems auditor. When Matt Dunlap was elected to the position of state auditor on December 2, 2020 by the Maine Legislature, he did not possess those credentials. Maine statute gave him nine months from January 4, 2021, when he took the oath of office, to receive those credentials.
Dunlap chose to pursue internal auditor credentials, but failed to obtain them before the nine month deadline. He sent a letter to Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) on October 1 informing Jackson that the position of state auditor was being vacated and that he must appoint a successor to be confirmed by the legislature the next time it convenes. Until that time, Melissa B. Perkins, the deputy state auditor, will step into Dunlap’s position.
According to Dunlap’s letter to Jackson, both the rigorous schedule of the internal auditor credential exams and COVID-19 presented “unforeseen challenges.”
Obtaining internal auditor credentials requires sitting a series of three exams. These exams are proctored and administered at Pearson VUE testing centers, which has two locations in Maine. In his letter to Jackson, Dunlap stated that concerns about COVID-19 limited the number of test dates available, which delayed the start of his first test date until May. A technological issue required that date be rescheduled on May 21, four months into the nine month period Dunlap had to obtain credentials.
Dunlap stated he missed passing the exam, which requires a score of at least 80%, by five questions. Under the rules of the Institute for Internal Auditors, Dunlap could not sit the exam again for 60 days. The limited availability of test dates meant he could not sit for 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 cutting close to the early October deadline, Dunlap had to pass each exam on his first attempt. However, he failed the second exam by four questions, and the third exam by one question.
Despite missing the deadline to receive state auditor credentials, which requires he vacate the state auditor position, Dunlap says he will sit the second and third exams again and continue pursuing internal auditor credentials. He said he is “supremely confident” he will pass and earn the certification.
Despite his lack of credentials, Dunlap described his time as state auditor as proceeding “seamlessly.”
“I was fortunate to have many years of experience as a public administrator behind me when I came here, and the assembled team at the Office of the State Auditor count among the most capable and dedicated individuals I have ever had the privilege of serving with. The leadership team is tireless, and the auditors in all of their specialties are intellectually curious and devoted to their work of assuring their fellow citizens that the programs created by the Legislature and the Congress are implemented in accordance with their intent,” Dunlap said in his letter to Jackson.
The legislature is scheduled to reconvene for its second session in January. Unless it holds a special session before then, it is likely a new state auditor will be confirmed next year.
Dunlap’s full letter to Senate President Jackson can be read here.