December 6, 2021

Maine’s ‘Utterly Unqualified’ State Auditor Just Stepped Down Because He Couldn’t Pass the Certified Internal Auditor Exam

In January of this year, seasoned bureaucrat Matthew Dunlap took the helm as state auditor in Maine despite having no background in accounting, much less auditing. Rather, he has a bachelor’s degree in Roman history and a master’s in English literature, the former of which would come in handy should Maine have a vacant State Quaestor position to fill. No problem though, as Maine law says that he had nine months to get certified in something and that’s plenty of time to learn auditing from scratch no doubt.

From a December 2020 Bangor Daily News article:

For Dunlap, it wouldn’t be the first time he has been elected to a job he is “utterly unqualified for,” he said Monday. He had no experience overseeing elections or the Bureau of Motor Vehicles when he first ran for secretary of state in 2004.

“The law anticipates the Legislature electing someone like me, and that’s why you’re given a period of time to make qualifications,” he said.

The state auditor must be qualified to work as a certified public accountant, certified information systems auditor or certified internal auditor, or have passed the licensure exams for those positions, according to state law. But the law also gives someone without those qualifications nine months to earn them after being elected to the job, and it’s not unprecedented for the person elected as state auditor to earn the necessary qualifications on the job.

Dunlap decided to go with Certified Internal Auditor and was confident he could nail the test — which had a ​41% pass rate in 2020 — in nine months.

*cue the Price Is Right losing horn sound*

Just days before the clock ran out, Dunlap informed the state Legislature that he failed the CIA exams by just a hair, according to the Portland Press Herald:

Dunlap informed Senate President Troy Jackson by letter Friday that he had not met the legal requirement to remain state auditor despite taking courses and a battery of certification exams. Dunlap also informed members of the State House press corps via email Friday afternoon that he had fallen short on the exams and the post would temporarily be filled by Deputy State Auditor Melissa Perkins.

In his letter to Jackson, Dunlap notes he passed one of the three exams needed to become a certified public account, a requirement for the job, but failed two others, by four questions and one question, respectively.

“I’ve taken all the exams, but have fallen short – just short,” Dunlap wrote in an email to the Portland Press Herald, Maine Public and the Bangor Daily News. “I plan on retaking the exams, but the Institute for Internal Auditors won’t allow me to retake them for 60 days, putting me outside the statutory window.”

A post on r/CPA — which is how I found this in the first place — incorrectly assumes that Dunlap failed the CPA exam, likely due to the linked AP article which states as much. There is also an incorrect note on his Wikipedia page, again likely due to AP writing that Dunlap is stepping down “after failing two exams needed to become a certified public accountant”:

He announced on October 1, 2021 that he had failed the exams required to become a CPA, and must leave the position because he is not permitted to retake them for 60 days.

As we know, the CPA exam is now offered throughout the year and failed sections can be rescheduled as soon as a failing score is received. Additionally, had it been the CPA exam there would have been no way for Dunlap to know how many questions he missed. Additionally additionally, it’s unlikely he could have gotten the necessary credits to sit for the exam AND waited to get approved to sit AND taken and passed all four parts without any accounting background whatsoever in nine measly months.

The Certified Internal Auditor requirements are as follows:

To be approved into the CIA program, candidate must either:

  • Hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher, or
  • Hold an active Internal Audit Practitioner designation, or
  • Possess five years of internal audit experience, or
  • Be an active student in your final year of college, or *
  • Be an active student with an approved Internal Audit Education Partnership (IAEP) school.*

It is unknown if Dunlap will try again just for shits and gigs or if he’s given up on what was clearly a lifelong dream to dedicate his heart and soul to the art of auditing.

Photo by Kelly Lacy from Pexels

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1 Comment

  1. I just googled images if this fellow. He looks like a TikTok influencer’s caricature if what an ‘accountant’ looks like. Since he apparently got jobs he wasn’t qualified for, I assumed he had a well manicured silver mane.

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