LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas legislators heard on Wednesday that the investigation into purchasing a podium would likely not be completed before next year.

The Executive Committee of the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee met in its first meeting since the full committee’s October approval of an expedited audit of a $19,029.25 podium and case purchase by the governor’s office. The state Republican Party later reimbursed the purchase.

During the meeting, Sen. Joshua Bryant (R-Rogers) asked the committee about the anticipated timeline for the audit to be completed.

Legislative Auditor Roger Norman replied that while the audit could be completed by the end of the year, it most likely would take longer.

“I’ll be surprised if we’re able to complete the lectern report by that time,” Norman said. “Right now, it’s just a matter of us doing our due diligence and approaching things in a methodical matter. So, we’re going to take whatever time it takes to make sure we do a thorough job.”

Bryant’s question came after the committee heard from Legislative Audit’s staff attorney, Frank Arey, about possible changes in the auditing process due to changes in the state’s Freedom of Information Act confidentiality requirements in the recent special session.

Arey suggested any procedure changes wait until any possible conflict with the new version of the law is found.

“We think the discussion at this point is really speculative,” Arey said. “We may not have any findings. If we have findings, they may not involve confidential matters. If they do involve confidential matters, we may be able to write a report to the public that would still protect the confidentiality of the information involved.”

The committee had requested research into changes in the auditing process in the same meeting it approved the podium audit.