The importance of transparency
State Auditor shares on ethics
Keith Faber, Ohio’s Auditor of State, spoke on the importance of transparency, both in business and in government, during his Forum presentation, “Business is Better in the Sunlight” on Oct. 22.
“We think this was a great opportunity for Bluffton University students to get exposure to a high-profile person like this, to see how state funds are used and the safeguards and mechanisms that are put in place to ensure tax payer dollars are spent wisely,” said Dr. Jason Swartzlander, professor of accounting.
Faber highlighted the need for college students to think about these issues because it promotes an interest in and understanding of how the government works.
“No matter what you do professionally, you’re going to interact with government in one way or another,” Faber said. “While most students have taken civics and have an understanding of the three branches of government, what often is missed is the day-to-day interaction between checks and balances to make sure everybody has an incentive to be open and transparent.”
Faber’s office frequently works with federal-level institutions such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Secret Service. As the largest private accounting firm in Ohio, the Auditor’s office serves as a consultant to these larger agencies and provides high-level training for the employees who work on those projects.
Faber also shared ways students can learn more about their government including through Sunshine Laws, which give Ohioans access to government meetings and records. On top of introducing students to new information, Swartzlander believes the Forum will spark conversation.
“The classic debate is: can ethics be taught? Some would say yes, some would say no, but at Bluffton, we believe it can be,” Swartzlander said. “I think that’s what make Bluffton special; we do business in a different way. Ethics is part of our core values, and a part of every course that we teach.”
Faber, who has been in his position since January, explained to students that being an accounting major or planning to go into a “numbers” profession doesn’t mean you’re exempt from dealing with auditors. He presented the audience with several real-life examples of what his office does every day, including many close to home in Allen (Ohio) County.
Because of this, Faber ended his presentation by encouraging students to be lifelong learners.
“It is important to continue learning. When you leave here, don’t think your education is done. Whether you decide to get a master’s degree or a doctorate, or in whatever comes next for you, always be a lifelong learner,” Faber said.