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California continually audits the insurance industry looking for the most trivial of mistakes. The irony of this report by CBS13 cannot be overlooked. The state office in charge of keeping track of California taxpayers’ money made tens of billions of dollars in accounting mistakes. CBS13 added it up and came up with a big number: $31.65 billion in errors. That’s more than the gross domestic product of Iceland and Jamaica combined.

Controller John Chiang’s office is the state’s financial watchdog, but an audit by the Bureau of State Audits claims the office’s accounting is off by billions of dollars. The audit revealed:

$7.7 billion – Understated federal trust fund revenues and expenditures
$653 million – Overstated general fund assets and revenues
$8 billion – Overstated California State University’s bond debt
$9.1 billion – Reporting error that understated a public building construction fund
Also there was a deferred tax-revenue figure posted as $6.2 billion when it was actually $6.2 million.

All told, that’s more than $31 billion in mistakes. Sacramento State accounting professor John Corless agrees with auditors saying those glaring mistakes should have been caught by somebody. “Someone’s not using their equipment right, and they’re not using their heads,” he said. Republican consultant Mitch Zak is calling for an investigation. “It’s offensive as a taxpayer,” he said. “There’s no consideration it appears if they misstate or mismanage my tax dollars that there’s any retribution.”

Chiang is running for state treasurer. His aides refused to go on camera for this story. They said they concur with the assessment, and they blame high staff turnover and a lack of qualified staff, budget cuts, and late and incorrect data from numerous agencies. In a statement issued to CBS13, the office says in part “All issues were corrected and identified before the final report was published, and not one cent of taxpayer dollars was affected.”