2007 Legislative Audits

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1. Summary of Report 2007-01 : A Performance Audit of Utah Charter Schools

This audit addresses items from Senate Bill 5 (2006) as well as an audit request from Representative Jim Dunnigan. We found that the equity of charter school revenues depends on policy judgements. While the Legislature has options to address parity with local property taxes, the equity of minimum school program funding depends on policy intent. In addition, charter school expenditures are difficult to analyze because of inconsistent data. While most schools appear financially viable, more state oversight is necessary to enhance their long-term viability and compliance with funding requirements. The authorization process for charter schools can be enhanced and charter school accountability mechanisms should be strengthened. However, charter schools appear to comply with reviewed regulations.

Full Report - A Performance Audit of Utah Charter Schools

 

2. Summary of Report 2007-02 : A Limited Review of Fiscal Note Accountability

State agencies could be more accountable for fiscal note estimates and expenditure of fiscal note appropriations. We found it is often difficult for state agencies to specifically account for fiscal note appropriations or revenues upon request. Even an in-depth review of certain fiscal notes could not supply conclusive answers in all cases as to how appropriations had been spent or what revenues had been received. It is important for state agencies to be accountable for fiscal note appropriations and revenues. Toward this end, the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst (LFA) has developed and is implementing fiscal note follow-up procedures to assess both the accuracy of the fiscal note itself and the expenditure of fiscal note appropriations.

Digest of the Report - A Limited Review of Fiscal Note Accountability

Full Report - A Limited Review of Fiscal Note Accountability

 

3. Summary of Report 2007-03 : A Performance Audit of UDOT Project Costs

UDOT road constructions costs are relatively low when compared to local governments costs' and other states' departments of transportation. UDOT emphasizes quality while locals focus on cost. Adams Avenue Parkway in Weber County, Antelope Drive in Layton City, and a bridge in Clearfield City demonstrate the tradeoff between quality and cost. However, UDOT also incurs administrative costs and right-of-way acquisition costs that local governments can more easily avoid.

Full Report - A Performance Audit of UDOT Project Costs

 

4. Summary of Report 2007-04 : A Performance Audit of the Governor's Office of Economic Development

The Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED) has made significant progress since December 2005 when our first report was issued, even while the agency was undergoing additional organizational changes. For several reasons, we believe that GOED is heading in the right direction as the state's economic development agency and has become stabilized organizationally. In addition, GOED has been working on strategic planning and has developed high-level performance measures as part of the Governor's Balanced Scorecard (BSC) initiative. However, as we will discuss, improvements are needed in some areas of GOED's strategic planning and program performance measurement.

Digest of the Report - A Performance Audit of the Governor's Office of Economic Development

Full Report - A Performance Audit of the Governor's Office of Economic Development

 

5. Summary of Report 2007-05 : A Limited Review of Disability Determination Services

Some improvements are possible in the timeliness of eligibility decisions for federal disability payments. The audit confirmed that although some federal disability determinations can take over two years, most do not. On average, the Office of Disability Determination (DDS) takes about four months to make an initial decision; if an appeal for reconsideration is requested, DDS averages another three months. However, if DDS denies the reconsideration, the claim can then be appealed again to the Social Security Administration (SSA). Thus, the time it takes from the initial application to the decision following two level of appeals can average around two years. Although the state's ability to direct DDS is limited by federal control the audit report discusses areas where processing time can be reduced so eligible applicants can begin receiving federal assistance sooner.

Digest of the Report - A Limited Review of Disability Determination Services

Full Report - A Limited Review of Disability Determination Services

 

6. Summary of Report 2007-06 : A Limited Review of HB 382 - Educational Salary Adjustments

House Bill 382 will not fulfill the reported legislative intent to provide public educators with a $2,500 annual pay increase and a $1,000 one-time bonus. As the bill currently stands, between $7.2 and $19.9 million in additional ongoing funds would be needed for the salary adjustment. This range reflects the as yet unknown portion of the salary adjustment addressed by $12.7 million of fiscal year 2008 Minimum School Program (MSP) funds dedicated to employee benefits that are associated with the 4 percent Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU) increase. An additional $2.4 million in one-time funds will also be needed for the intended bonus. Both errors in calculations supporting HB 382 and misunderstandings between all parties involved have prevented the bill from accomplishing its intended results.

Full Report - A Limited Review of HB 382 - Educational Salary Adjustments

 

7. Summary of Report 2007-07 : A Review of the Public Education Costs of Undocumented Children

For fiscal year 2006, we estimate between $54.9 million and $85.4 million of public education's state and locally funded costs go toward the education of undocumented children. To calculate these costs, two estimates were made: (1) an annual average per-pupil cost estimate based on actual program costs potentially utilized by undocumented children and (2) a population range estimate based on census data provided by a national authority.

Full Report - A Review of the Public Education Costs of Undocumented Children

 

8. Summary of Report 2007-08 : A Follow-Up Audit of the School & Institutional Trust Land Administration (SITLA)

 

Full Audit Report: A Follow-Up Audit of the School & Institutional Trust Land Administration (SITLA)

 

9. Summary of Report 2007-09 : A Performance Audit of Compliance with UMIFA

In the 2005 Legislative general session, the governance and oversight structure for higher education endowment funds changed from the Money Management Act to the Uniform Management of Institutional Funds Act (UMIFA). In our audit of compliance with UMIFA, we found that institution management are not fully tracking investment compliance. As well, institutions audited each had some degree of non-compliance with the Board of Regents investment policy. We also found that the governance and oversight structure over higher education endowment funds needs improvement, particularly the work of the internal audit function at each institution whose work was insufficient to detect policy non-compliance.

Full Report - A Performance Audit of Compliance with UMIFA

 

10. Summary of Report 2007-10 : A Performance Audit of Court Fines, Surcharges and Fees

This audit focused on determining if trial courts are assessing fines, surcharges, and fees according to statute, and a review of the distribution and uses of surcharge revenue. A review of a sample of cases from district, juvenile, and justice courts showed that some justice courts need additional training. It appears that district and juvenile courts have adequate controls except for a minor programming error in the juvenile courts case management system. Surcharge revenue is being allocated appropriately, and most state agencies adequately manage court surcharge revenue. In addition, the audit examined the capital projects fund, and determined that revenue collected for that fund will not be sufficient to meet bond obligations without Legislative and AOC action.

Full Report - A Performance Audit of Court Fines, Surcharges and Fees

 

11. Summary of Report 2007-11 : A Performance Audit of Higher Education Personnel Budgeting Practices

Higher education's budgets are not representative of actual expenditures. Specifically, personnel budgets are overstated, while non-personnel budgets are understated. While carryforward balances for institutions of higher education are relatively small, they are not being adequately disclosed. Budgeted amounts for personnel and non-personnel for higher education have drifted over the years and no longer reflect spending expectations, they should be brought more in line with actual expenditures.

Full Report - A Performance Audit of Higher Education Personnel Budgeting Practices

 

12. Summary of Report 2007-12 : A Performance Audit of the Petroleum Storage Tank Trust Fund

The Petroleum Storage Tank Trust Fund provides coverage to underground fuel storage tank owners and operators for cleanup costs associated with a leaking tank and is administered by the Division of Environmental Response and Remediation. The specific audit objectives included evaluating whether the division should both administer the fund and regulate the industry, whether the fund should be privatized, if alternative tank cleanup corrective action methods can be used to meet a tank owner/operator's financial assurance requirements, and if the division is acting in an effective, efficient, and timely manner in auditing corrective actions and regulating the industry generally. The audit discusses our analysis of the first three objectives and offers four recommendations to help the division improve some management practices.

Full Report - A Performance Audit of the Petroleum Storage Tank Trust Fund

 

13. Summary of Report 2007-13 : A Performance Audit of School District Internal Controls

Recent allegations that three public education employees embezzled more than $5 million over many years in Davis and Weber school districts raised concerns that fraud prevention and detection controls may not be adequate in these and other school districts. Our evaluation showed that Davis School District has implemented correction action and other districts generally do not have similar control weaknesses. The Weber School District Foundation is in the process of implementing improvements to its internal controls but some other foundations have similar control weaknesses. Our review highlights the importance of establishing internal control activities and shows that it is also essential to monitor that those controls are implemented and effective.

Full Report - A Performance Audit of School District Internal Controls

14. Summary of Report 2007-14 : A Performance Audit of Class-Size Reduction Funds

We were asked to review the uses of class-size reduction (CSR) funds. We conclude that since less than half of all school districts track CSR funds, we could not verify in all cases whether funds were used either appropriately or inappropriately. For those districts that do track CSR expenditures, we feel that their funds are auditable. Based on a sample of 8 districts, three of those districts did track CSR expenditures and we verified the use of those funds were for teacher compensation. We also conducted aggregate data analysis and we estimate that CSR funds generally have maintained CSR funded teachers but in most years no new teachers have been added. In our report, we raise some areas needing policy review, specifically whether the Legislature desires to add increased accountability and reporting requirements for CSR funds.

Full Report - A Performance Audit of Class-Size Reduction Funds

 

15. Summary of Report 2007-15 : A Performance Audit of Utah's Coal Regulatory Program

We found that management overseeing the coal regulatory program is lacking good management practices in a couple key governing areas. Management has not developed adequate policies and procedures for the coal program and is not satisfactorily monitoring the performance of the coal program. Further, management's permitting practices are not consistent with the intent of state statutes and administrative rules, as clarified by the Board of Oil, Gas and Mining.

Full Report - A Performance Audit of Utah's Coal Regulatory Program