2001 Legislative Audits


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1. Summary of Report 2001-01: OFFICE OF CHILD CARE

Utah families need child care services because of the high number of mothers in the labor force and the increasing proportions of parents - both mothers and fathers - who are raising their children in single-parent households and need to be able to work to support their families. In recent years, the Office of Child Care (OCC) has moved away from concentrating on child care issues to focusing more broadly on work life issues. At the same time, OCC has increased staff to perform more functions itself rather than contracting with independent regional Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agencies. As a result, some stakeholders in the child care community have become very frustrated with OCC. Some have complained that OCC does not listen to community input and is not accountable for its use of state and federal child care funds. We think closer attention from Department of Workforce Services (DWS) management will help OCC more effectively address child care issues in the future. Although OCC is small, its effectiveness plays an important part in DWS's mission. Recent organizational changes by DWS indicate department management will give OCC more attention in the future.

Full Report - Office of Child Care

2. Summary of Report 2001-02: PROCESSING COSTS FOR CONCEALED WEAPONS

The Bureau of Criminal Identification is charged with operating a program that will allow and oversee the issuing of concealed carry weapons permits to law-abiding residents and non-residents of the state. In calender year 2000, the concealed weapon program operations cost $451,800 while fee collections were only $307,400. In essence, state general funds supplemented the program with $144,000. Even with the state supplementing the program, the statutory workload requirements could not be met. Primarily, state oversight of weapons training courses is severely limited and can result in a lack of permit applicant training and understanding of the state's laws. This existing problem in combination with the rapid growth of new permit applications and renewals may cause problems in the future unless the fee structure is adequately addressed. In addition to fee structure changes, some program changes could reduce overall program costs while improving overall program efficiency.

Full Report - Processing Costs for Concealed Weapon Permits

3. Summary of Report 2001-03: ADOPTION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

Adoption assistance plays an important role in helping the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) find permanent homes for special needs children in state custody. However, a combination of client growth and poor financial controls caused spending to rapidly increase and exceed the program's budget.

In recent months, the division has made significant progress in improving its financial management practices that should help control spending. Because of the division's recent efforts to control costs, legislators should exercise caution as they consider the division's funding request for adoption assistance during the 2001 General Session. While we feel the governor's budget request is correct to predict expenditures based on estimated client growth, it needs to be updated to reflect cost savings that have resulted and may yet result from stronger fiscal controls.

Full Report -Utah's Adoption Assistance Program

4. Summary of Report 2001-04: ADDENDUM TO STATE TEXTBOOK FUNDING

Following the presentation of our November 2000 audit, A Performance Audit of State Textbook Funding (Report # 2000-07), legislative leadership requested our office provide information on specific issues during the beginning of the 2001 legislative session. This addendum contains the information we were able to gather in the following areas:

Adjustment of the $30.6 Million Estimate
Estimate of On-going Textbook Costs
Textbook and Supplies Spending by District
Assessment of Minimum Expenditure Requirement
Sources of Funding for 5.5 Percent Requirement
Changes to the 5.5 Percent Minimum Expenditure Requirement

Full Report -Addendum to an Audit of State Textbook Funding

5. Summary of Report 2001-05: SOCIAL CAPITAL FORMATION

Generally, the social capital formualtion process is working well. The Department of Workforce Services (DWS) strives to make good customer assessments and referrals, maintain civic organization inventories, and coordinate with community groups through local coalitions. However, the Legislature may want to clarify how intensive an effort it expects from DWS to promote the development of social capital in the community.

The purpose of the Social Capital Formation Act is to promote the availability of social capital. The act defines social capital as "the value provided to the state by civic organizations." According to the statute, "using social capital, clients of and applicants for services . . . may receive a wide array of services and supports that cannot be provided by state government alone." The act encourages government efforts to strengthen civic agencies and establishes a process whereby DWS will assess individual applicant's needs and may refer them to civic agencies. In the act, however, the Legislature also "recognizes the constitutional limits of state government to sustain civic institutions that provide social capital."

Full Report - Social Capital Formation Act

6. Summary of Report 2001-06: VETERANS' NURSING HOME TRANSFER

On July 1, 2002 administrative oversight of the Utah Veterans' Nursing Home (UVNH) will transfer from the Department of Health (DOH) to the Utah National Guard (UNG). The transfer is part of a legislative effort to better serve Utah's veterans by consolidating all state veterans' affairs under one department - the Utah National Guard. In 2000, the Legislature passed HB 140 which elevated the existing Office of Veterans' Affairs to division status under the UNG. The legislation then authorized the transfer of the Veterans' Cemetery and the Utah Veterans' Nursing Home under the new Division of Veterans' Affairs in fiscal year 2002 and fiscal year 2003, respectively.

We found that about $160,600 in additional funding will be needed for the initial transfer year --$132,600 for the UNG and $28,000 for the Attorney General's Office (AG's) --to oversee on-going nursing home operations. Subsequent year funding should approximate this amount but will need to be determined as equipment replacement and capital needs are clarified.

Full Report - Utah Veterans' Nursing Home Transfer

7. Summary of Report 2001-07: ASSOCIATIONS OF GOVERNMENT

Many of Utah state government's services are provided by seven associations of governments (AOG). The AOGs fill an important service-delivery function at the local and regional level within Utah. The AOGs have little direct interaction with the Legislature; however, executive agency staff monitor AOG activities, providing accountability through contract provisions and oversight activities.

The AOGs came about in Utah as a result of a combination of previously existing informal groups of counties and a federal emphasis on regionalization in the 1960s and 1970s. Formalizing these associations was intended to provide efficiency in government through economies of scale. Groups of counties and cities could provide coordinated services that would be cost-prohibitive to provide individually. Programs would be determined by the needs of the particular region and activities directed by a board of locally elected officials.

Full Report - Utah Associations of Government

8. Summary of Report 2001-08: CHILD WELFARE REFERRALS & CASES

Our office has conducted its annual audit of a sample of child welfare referrals to and cases handled by the Division of Child and Family Service's (DCFS). Because of recent statutory changes, this report differs from our prior annual reviews of the Office of Services Review (OSR) by looking more directly at DCFS activities. The main conclusions of this report are:

case process review can benefit from caseworker involvement
removal statistics raise concerns but removal process seems reasonable
DCFS training delivery needs improvement
qualitative review tool looks promising

Full Report- Child Welfare Referrals and Cases

9. Summary of Report 2001-09: FOLLOW-UP AUDIT OF JUVENILE JUSTICE

Although Utah's juvenile justice system has made many improvements, several problems described in our 1999 audit report still need to be addressed. For example, Utah's juvenile justice system has responded well to our recommendation that greater emphasis be placed on early intervention. We found that many new early intervention programs have been developed since our first audit. In addition, the state has adopted an assessment procedure to identify the risk and needs of youth offenders, just as we recommended in 1999.

On the other hand, three things must happen to fully implement our 1999 audit recommendations: (1) A few communities still need to develop a complete set of sanctions and services for early offenders. (2) The Legislature needs to address the problems associated with the duplication and overlapping roles between the Juvenile Court and the Division of Youth Corrections. (3) The state needs to monitor the performance of each of the sanctions and services for young offenders so it can identify which progra1ms are effective and which are not.

Full Report -Utah's Juvenile Justice System

10. Summary of Report 2001-10: UNREGISTERED PASSENGER VEHICLES

Utah loses as much as $7.3 million each year to improperly registered motor vehicles. This figure includes $4.5 million for vehicles that have avoided registration fees and taxes for at least one year, and $2.8 million for vehicles that should be registered in Utah but are inappropriately registered in other states.

Registration compliance can, however, be improved with minor cosmetic license plate changes, increased enforcement, and increased penalties/fines for noncompliance. Other compliance strategies, such as replating, are available but have greater costs and do not appear to be any more effective. Further, without increased enforcement, there is no strategy that brings vehicles improperly registered out-of-state into compliance.

Full Report -Unregistered Passenger Vehicles in Utah

11. Summary of Report 2001-11: SCHOOL DISTRICT FUNDING OF EDUCATION ASSOCIATION ACTIVITY

We have reviewed 21 of 40 Utah school districts for the use of public funds to support education association (professional organizations representing teachers' interests) activities. Utah's constitution dictates that public funds allocated to education must be spent in support of the public school system. We believe current policy and practice fail to comply with constitutional requirements for the use of public funds by districts for the support of the public school system. This is because the school districts lack controls over the expenditure of public funds for education association activities. Specifically, (1) 16 of the 21 sampled school districts lack adequate controls over association leave, and (2) About 76 percent of sampled school districts are subsidizing local education associations with public funds by approximately $210,000 annually without documenting a benefit.

Rules or guidelines on association leave are needed to help ensure that any public funds spent on such leave meet the requirements of the state constitution.

Full Report -School District Funding of Education Association Activity

12. Summary of Report 2001-12: DIVISION OF SERVICES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILTIES

State government in Utah provides services to its population who have disabilities through the Department of Human Services' Division of Services for People with Disabilities (DSPD or "the division"). Because resources are limited, not all needs communicated by people with disabilities can be met, so many potential clients must be placed on a waiting list to receive services and supports.

We found that significant problems exist with the accuracy of DSPD's waiting list. We also found other areas where DSPD can improve, such as its effectiveness in utilizing federal matching funds and its effectiveness in making funding decisions. We examined these areas in response to the Legislature's audit question "Are we getting the funding to the people who need it the most?"

Full Report -Division of Services for People with Disabilities