Back taxes, fees and contract collections owed to the state now total more than $3 billion.

That’s as much as Oregon spends on police, the judicial system and public safety in two years.

Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins says collection rates on the debt have also dropped, from 13 percent to 11 percent.  “The state’s debt collection system needs leadership, it needs sustained focus and accountability to assure Oregonians that the state isn’t squandering opportunities to collect funds owed essentially to tax payers,” she said.

Currently, it’s up to each department to collect its own debts.

The audit recommends that one agency, the Department of Administrative Services, oversee collections instead. It would set policy and require departments to report their success rates.