BISMARCK-North Dakota State Auditor Josh Gallion will examine travel spending from Gov. Doug Burgum's office after the state's chief executive faced criticism for accepting Super Bowl tickets from Xcel Energy.
Gallion informed Burgum in a March 22 letter that his office would conduct a performance audit focused on "travel related expenditures and use of state resources," according to a copy of the document provided by Burgum's office Tuesday, March 27. The audit will span from March 2016, during then-Gov. Jack Dalrymple's tenure, to the end of February.
The letter comes weeks after Burgum reimbursed Xcel Energy nearly $40,000 for tickets to the Super Bowl and other related events. The governor said he used the Minneapolis trip to have "constructive conversations with top Xcel executives" and argued the tickets wouldn't influence his decision-making.
But it wasn't immediately clear whether the trip prompted Gallion's examination. He didn't return a message late Tuesday afternoon.
Both Burgum and Gallion are Republicans who were first elected in 2016.
In a statement, Burgum's spokesman Mike Nowatzki said the office will work with auditors to fulfill their requests. He said a previous financial audit ended in a "clean report" with no recommendations for improvements on "efficiency and effectiveness."
"The Office of the Governor has worked to identify efficiencies in state government and has been responding to and engaging directly with constituents across the state on a variety of issues while using state resources responsibly," Nowatzki added in his emailed statement.
Performance audits are used to improve operations, reduce costs or initiate "corrective action," according to recent reports.