How and when to seek SAO approval for a restitution agreement
Updated October 30, 2023
When state agencies and local governments become the unfortunate victims of misappropriation, seeking restitution from the responsible parties is an important step to help make the government and its taxpayers whole again. State law requires that local governments (RCW 43.09.260) and state agencies (RCW 43.09.330) seek approval in writing from the State Auditor's Office (SAO) and the Attorney General's Office for “settlement or compromise of any claim arising out of such malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance, or any action commenced therefor.” Here are answers to some frequently asked questions to help you navigate this requirement.
What constitutes a “settlement or compromise”?
If you are seeking to recover any amount other than the full loss amount as determined by SAO, plus related audit costs, you need to seek approval from SAO and the Attorney General's Office.
What if we seek recovery through the criminal process?
Restitution ordered in a criminal legal proceeding does not require approval from SAO and the Attorney General’s Office.
How do I seek approval?
Send your proposed agreement to the SAO Fraud team at Fraud@sao.wa.gov. The team will route the agreement to the appropriate approvers at both SAO and the Attorney General's Office. Alternatively, you can contact Assistant Attorney General Matt Kernutt from the Attorney General's Office at (360) 586-0740 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Brandi Pritchard, Assistant Director of Local Audit and Special Investigations with SAO, who can be reached at (360) 489-4591 or Brandi.Pritchard@sao.wa.gov.
What if we want to seek recovery before SAO has completed its investigation or review?
Send your proposed agreement for approval to the SAO Fraud Team at Fraud@sao.wa.gov. We recommend you include language in the agreement clarifying that:
- The State Auditor's Office has not fully investigated this loss, and therefore the loss amount may change.
- The amount [listed in the agreement] does not include the State Auditor's Office audit costs, for which [Payer name] will reimburse the [entity type] if further work is performed by the State Auditor's Office.