Maryland officials will joyfully welcome the new year - on the assumption that January cannot possibly bring a worse spate of stories about state government than December.
Let's review this month's stories in The Capital, many of which featured the word "audit":
A four-year audit found that the state Office of Personnel Services and Benefits stockpiled nearly 10 times the amount in bank accounts that it was authorized to keep, failed to establish adequate controls over nearly $35 million in cash receipts in 2010, and didn't safeguard information on state employees, including Social Security numbers and dates of birth.
The new director of the state Child Support Enforcement Administration promised that he'll vastly improve the situation found by state auditors, who said this year that the department had left more than $1.7 billion in child support uncollected. The agency, auditors said, had failed to use available enforcement tools, such as garnishing wages, seizing bank accounts and suspending occupational licenses.