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For Immediate Release

Date: 01/12/11

Rep. Burns appointed chair of Government Oversight Committee

AUGUSTA- State Rep. David Burns has been named House chair of the Government Oversight Committee, putting him in a position to influence the direction of audits by a government watchdog agency -- the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability (OPEGA).

Rep. Burns (R-Whiting), a retired Maine State Police detective, also will serve on the Legislature's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. The panel has jurisdiction over a wide range of state operations, including the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Corrections and the Maine Emergency Management Agency.

"Pulling double duty will make for a busy session, but I'm delighted to have this opportunity," said Rep. Burns, now in his second legislative term. "OPEGA is a relatively new operation, but it is critically important in performing audits of state agencies and practices. We have a group of fine legislators on the committee, including Sen. David Trahan, who was instrumental in creating OPEGA."

House Speaker Robert Nutting, who made the appointment, said Rep. Burns brings a reputation for fairness to the job. "Dave Burns is universally respected in the Legislature for his thoughtful consideration of the issues," he said. "We're fortunate to have legislators of his caliber. I have no doubt that he will run this important committee in an outstanding manner."

Rep. Burns brings strong experience to his new chairmanship post. He served as the ranking Republican on the Government Oversight Committee in the last Legislature, and he also served last term on the Criminal Justice and Public Safety panel.

The Government Oversight Committee is unique in the Legislature. It has six Republicans and six Democrats, rather than the usual 13 members. The committee considers requests for OPEGA audits brought by other legislators and can order audits on its own.

In the last few years, OPEGA has conducted audits of numerous programs, including the Fund for a Healthy Maine, the Maine Turnpike Authority, economic development programs and state contracting for professional services. Last session, OPEGA audited emergency communications in Kennebec County, resulting in legislation to improve services and provide additional resources for a regional communications center. ###

Jay Finegan
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 287-1445