Govs Freudenthal, Sullivan Praise Legacy Of Former State Auditor Dave Ferrari

Former State Auditor Dave Ferrari died last week at age 80. Wyoming Govs. Sullivan and Freudenthal praised Ferrari as a champion of government efficiency and transparency. "He was remarkably ethical," Fruedenthal said.

Leo Wolfson

March 11, 20245 min read

Former State Auditor Dave Ferrari
Former State Auditor Dave Ferrari (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

It can be mostly traced to former State Auditor Dave Ferrari that Wyoming’s state government is organized the way it is and no longer relies on unelected boards and commission members to make many important decisions for the rest of the state.

Ferrari, who served as state auditor from 1991-1999, died last week at the age of 80.

Former Gov. Dave Freudenthal said Ferrari was a champion of government efficiency and transparency.

“He was as good of a public servant as I've ever known,” Freudenthal said. “He was smart and remarkably ethical.”


When Ferrari joined the auditor’s office in 1975, the state operated under an outdated governmental structure featuring a mish-mash of boards, commissions and agencies that worked under the purview of their staffs, board members, statewide elected officials or some combination of the three.

Former Gov. Mike Sullivan commissioned Ferrari to reorganize and streamline state government to increase its efficiency and transparency.

“It was to remove the multiple and many-numbered silos into a little more controllable situation,” Sullivan said.

In 1988, Ferrari delivered “A Study in State Government Efficiency,” a plan that led to a reduction in the overall number of state agencies and modernized a structure that had been in place since Wyoming’s statehood.

The changes Ferrari brought reduced the number of state agencies from 79 and shifted many of the executive decision-making powers from various boards and commissions to agency heads and members of the governor’s cabinet. Today, Wyoming has 49 state agencies.

“He’s a good example of why it’s important to learn as much as you can and apply it in a straightforward manner in the best interest of the people you serve,” Sullivan said.

Current State Auditor Kristi Racines said Ferrari’s impact can still be seen today.

“His fingerprints are all over the way we run the state of Wyoming today,” she said. “His dedication to our state, good governance and efficiency is undeniable.”

Follow The Money

During his years as state auditor, Ferrari, a Republican, pushed for rules on ethics and conflict of interest and championed transparency.

He also found ways to save the state money at a time when resources were running low by helping implement a new fiscal accounting system, Freudenthal said.

Ferrari served during a time when Wyoming was in a difficult economic position. U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis served in the Legislature during some of Ferrari’s term.

“Dave was instrumental in managing a precipitous revenue decline due to the boom-and-bust nature of our state’s economy, and his hard work positioned our state to better recover from economic downturns,” Lummis said.

Rod Miller, a Cowboy State Daily columnist who worked under former Govs. Ed Herschler and Mike Sullivan for natural resource and federal lands planning, said if there was a way to save the state money, Ferrari found it.

“He reflected what the people wanted their money to do,” Miller said.

Ferrari, known for being a quiet man, often let his numbers do the talking for him, Freudenthal said. When it came to playing politics himself, Miller said Ferrari was intrinsically removed.

“He maintained his own political views throughout without letting it interfere with his work,” Miller said. “He was a man of principles that refused to be violated.”

Ferrari also led the charge for campaign finance reform, preventing legislators from becoming lobbyists immediately upon leaving the Legislature, stopping government officials from being enriched by businesses they regulate, license, inspect or oversee. Freudenthal said he was less successful with these efforts,

But Ferrari wasn’t completely removed from his own controversy, admitting in 1994 that he may have violated state personnel rules in hiring a staff member without going through the personnel recruitment process, according to a Wyoming Tribune Eagle story at the time.

This employee was Buck McVeigh, who later went on to be chief of staff for Gov. Mark Gordon.

Then And Now

According to his obituary, Ferrari grew up in Torrington and in 1967, joined the Wyoming Department of Education, serving first as an auditor of federal programs and later as the department’s chief financial officer.

Ferrari would go on to work with five governors during his 31 years working in state government.

In 1973, former Gov. Stan Hathaway appointed Ferrari to the position of the state’s budget director. When Herschler took over next in 1975, he asked Ferrari to stay on, but Ferrari had already accepted another offer to be deputy state auditor, an office he would hold until retirement.

Ferrari ran to be the 17th auditor of Wyoming in 1990, receiving more votes than any other candidate who had ever run for office in Wyoming at the time. He was reelected in 1994.

Ferrari moved on to political consulting after serving as auditor, and also wrote two books. One criticized former President Donald Trump in 2018, and the other was an autobiography of his own life written in 2013.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter