Following predecessor’s history of receiving kickbacks
May 24, 2022 (Little Rock, Ark.) –Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan was the first treasurer to have been elected following former Treasurer Martha Shoffner’s conviction of bribery and taking kickbacks from brokers.
“I looked at this as an opportunity to clean up her mess and restore public trust,” Milligan said. “Such a vital function of state government should be taken very seriously.”
The State Treasury receives about $70 million each day in deposits from local, state and federal agencies and is responsible for balancing the state’s ledger daily. It is also responsible for an investment portfolio of roughly $6 billion.
“Early on in my tenure, I was approached by a company offering me an all-expenses-paid Hawaiian vacation and I turned them down. I said, ‘That’s not the way we’re going to conduct the state’s business,’” Milligan explained.
One of the first systems Milligan created was an online public auction for Treasury CDs, or certificates of deposit. Historically, Treasury investment staff would manually call banks to try and negotiate the highest possible rate of return for the Treasury. That consisted of several hours’ worth of time spent on the phone and had the potential for favoritism.
“Not only was it inefficient, but there was no possible way to be fair to smaller banks who would like to have competed for our CDs,” Milligan said.
To promote both fairness and efficiency, he developed the Arkansas Transparent Treasury Auction program (ATTA). The program is an online auction by which banks bid anonymously on Treasury CDs. The auctions can also be watched by the public.
“The intention of the program was to provide transparency and fairness to all Arkansas banks, but an added benefit to the taxpayers is that we were able to increase our rate of return significantly,” Milligan said.
Another effort toward total transparency was a complete overhaul of the Treasury’s website. Every financial report that is available may be found on the website at www.artreasury.gov.
Those reports include daily cash flows; brokers the Treasury does business with; securities purchased and their rate of return; the tax and aid amounts distributed to municipalities; and assets for programs the Treasury administers, such as the Arkansas Brighter Future 529 Plan and the Arkansas ABLE Plan for people with disabilities.
“I ran for this office to restore public trust and improve transparency within the State Treasury,” Milligan said. “I pledged to do what was best for the state of Arkansas and the Treasury.”
To watch a video release, click here.
Dennis Milligan was elected Treasurer of State in 2014 and re-elected in 2018. The State Treasury is responsible for overseeing the state’s $6 billion portfolio. Since taking office in 2015, Milligan has receipted the state more than $474 million in investment returns and has grown the investment portfolio’s receipts to record highs. www.artreasury.gov.