Thomas J. Sheeran
CLEVELAND: An audit done amid political sniping recommended Tuesday that the Ohio Lottery Commission become a quasi-public entity or be eliminated, leaving the director in charge.
The findings by state Auditor Mary Taylor also recommended trimming the lottery staff and giving the lottery more flexibility to adapt to changes in the gambling landscape.
Timing was an issue heading into the political season. Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat who is running for re-election, had pressed Taylor, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, on why the audit wasn't completed earlier.
Her office said the timing reflected the work load. Taylor said she initiated the audit to gauge lottery efficiency as Ohio moves toward casino gambling.
The lottery said it was preparing a response.
Kathleen Burke, lottery executive director, told Taylor in a letter included in the audit that the findings ''will be integrated into the strategic planning process'' with a view toward taking ''appropriate responsive measures.'' Burke didn't specify any.
The audit cited the lottery's ''consistent achievement'' in financial reporting and awards from professional organizations representing government finance executives.
If the lottery is converted into a quasi-public corporation as recommended, the audit said the commission should have expanded duties including appointment of the lottery chief, now hand-picked by the governor.
If the lottery isn't converted into a quasi-public corporation, the commission now appointed by the governor ''should be eliminated, as it is duplicative in nature and does not help maximize the efficiency of the lottery or its mission of generating revenue for public education,'' the audit said.
In practice, the lottery director indicated ''she defers to the governor's judgment for major policy decisions, especially those which could be viewed as expanding the lottery in any way,'' the audit said.
The audit also recommended eliminating more than a dozen positions at the lottery's Cleveland headquarters, including jobs in human resources, planning and marketing.
The lottery should consider using more part-time employees to oversee daily drawings, according to the audit, which noted ''the long periods of downtime'' for employees between drawings.