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Follow The Money

Transparency in government is State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka's goal. How will she accomplish it? By keeping track of every dollar, following exactly where it goes, and teaching other officials to do the same.
The room at Rock Valley College may have been packed with public officials, led by State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka. But, in a sense, Rita Crundwell was there as well. The former Comptroller for the city of Dixon pulled off the biggest municipal embezzlement scheme in history, before being sent to prison. And, organizers of this "Follow the Money" conference say fraud by public officials can happen anywhere.

"We want to make sure that we understand how public monies can at times be misappropriated, and work to be diligent in protecting that that does not occur," states Dr. Brian Sager, Mayor of Woodstock, IL and Vice President of Academic Affairs for Rock Valley College.

Topinka says she wants all of the public officials in attendance, representing 64 counties and 200 cities throughout the state, to keep a close eye on their budgets and an even closer eye on where their money goes, "Follow the money. Always follow the money. That is guaranteed to get you cleaned up and, you know, running a clean operation."

She adds that the number one way to prevent government fraud is openness and transparency, "We've invited you all here today so you can focus on what's important, so that you, too, can find ways to root out potential corruption, make your government more transparent, work better with your constituency so that they know what's going on, because you know what's going on."

Representatives from the Illinois CPA Society helped organize the workshop to give public officials better tools to root out corruption.
 
"Our goal, the Illinois CPA Society, is really about educating the people. So, if we can walk away and have them with a little stronger education about how to do their jobs to help serve the public, protect the public, we've achieved our goal," states Todd Shapiro, President and CEO of the Illinois CPA Society.

The FBI also participated in the workshop, helping attendees learn how to identify fraud and put an end to it. This is the first time Judy Baar Topinka and her staff have sponsored a workshop like this one. And, given its success, it won't be the last time.


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