2016 Informal Letter Reports

Report ILR2016-A: USTAR Annual Report: Performance Outcome Reporting Remains Under Development

Summary: In accordance with statutory requirements, the Legislative Auditor General conducted a review of the fiscal year 2015 annual report of the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR). We found that, while some progress has been made over the past year to improve performance outcome reporting, USTAR still needs to strengthen its outcome collection and reporting process. This includes: clearly defining metric definitions and count methodologies, implementing required reporting forms and formats, enacting required reporting timeframes, and improving access to partner source documentation for performance metrics. Also, USTAR’s reporting of key commercialization and economic impact metrics remains either incomplete or unavailable. Specifically, a full and clear accounting of technology license agreements and terms (that lead to commercialization revenue) is incomplete, and economic impact estimates are unavailable for research universities. USTAR did report economic impact estimates for its outreach program, which were derived from a new survey methodology.

Report ILR2016-B: A Limited Review of the Use of Cash Bail in Utah District Courts 

Summary: In response to concerns from some stakeholders, we found that the Fourth District Court collection of cash bail from defendants was not misused, but was returned to the defendants in full. However, we did not find any instances where cash bail was applied to victim restitution. Statute does allow judges to use cash bail and apply it as they see fit. Because of the limited nature of our review, we were not able to definitively determine a larger scope question: whether cash bail is more cost effective when compared to bonding. However, we do recommend the Legislature consider a full audit to adequately address this question.

Report ILR2016-C: A Limited Review of the Timely Issuance of Warrants

Summary: We were asked to conduct a limited review of the Administrative Office of the Court’s (AOC’s) warrant system, because of a concern that a backlog may exist in processing warrant requests. A backlog could potentially lead to premature release of high-risk defendants from jail. The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office (SLDA) provided us with 37 cases for which delays in processing warrant requests may have led to possible early release of suspects. Our review of these cases identified five cases in which a suspect was released prior to a warrant being issued, but we found no evidence that release was caused by a processing backlog. However, other concerns with these cases are discussed in this report. Overall, the AOC has improved its processes to reduce the likelihood of delays in warrant processing and has been working with the SLDA’s office to address their concerns. Specifically, a technical change has been added that allows the court clerk to sort warrants that are closer to the deadline and require immediate attention. We also spoke to other counties’ district attorneys to ascertain if they had issues similar to Salt Lake County’s; however, only one issue was reported by one other county, which has been addressed and remedied.

Report ILR2016-D: A Survey of State Building Management Practices and Cost of Investment Methodologies

Summary: A Survey of State Building Management Practices and Cost of Investment Methodologies found that other governmental entities have tools to analyze certain stages of facility costs, but not a comprehensive methodology that the state could adopt. To continue with this assignment, a consultant with relevant expertise, would be needed to develop a comprehensive methodology to determine the total cost of investment for Utah’s state-owned and higher education buildings. We recommend that the Legislative Audit Subcommittee consider having the State Building Board, in conjunction with the Division of Facilities Construction and Management (DFCM) obtain a consultant to develop a methodology.  

Report ILR2016-E: A Limited Review of the Division of Risk Management

Summary: This report provides a limited review of two of the Division of Risk Management’s (DRM) programs and a Fiscal Year 2017 Internal Service Fund (ISF) funding concern for DRM. We conducted a risk assessment of DRM and although we do not recommend additional audit work, we do offer recommendations for improving division operations and a recommendation to the Legislature concerning a shortfall in ISF funding for Fiscal Year 2017. We found that policies establishing a formal inspection schedule for DRM-insured properties are needed. Policies are also needed to provide structure to how loss prevention activities are recorded in DRM’s case management system for useful measurement and analytical purposes. In addition, DRM’s self-inspection program policies need to include special exemptions and formal recordkeeping on why exemptions are granted. Our review of DRM’s claims program shows that it appears to be well managed for the risk areas we examined. Finally, a shortfall in ISF funding for Fiscal Year 2017 may require a supplemental appropriation from the Legislature to cover insureds’ DRM premium costs for FY 2017 and ensure the Risk Fund does not become actuarially unsound.

Report ILR2016-F: UCA Improving Controls after Fraud Discovered

Summary: This report found that while the financial statement audit that found missing credit card receipts was conducted according to generally accepted standards, the Office of the State Auditor should have conducted a more thorough review, given its broader responsibilities. Although the Utah Communications Authority management and Board were ultimately responsible for not detecting and preventing the fraud, they have taken quick action to resolve the control weaknesses.

Report ILR2016-G: A Survey of Allegations Involving Utah State University’s Anthropology Program

Summary: We found that conflicts of interest existed and persist between USU faculty and a Logan-based cultural resource management firm called Utah State University Archaeology Services (USUAS), and that USU managed those conflicts poorly. Those conflicts raise concerns about universities statewide and their procurement processes being in-line with state statute. Utah State University also did not adequately ensure compliance with its licensing agreement with USUAS. Finally, USU failed to adequately document the extent to which the arrangement met the anthropology program’s stated goals.

Letter: Direction Needed Whether to Proceed with Public Education Audit Requests

Summary: USBE is currently undergoing a substantial reorganization. Two significant changes include (1) organizational and budget restructuring, and (2) changing internal accounting procedures. As a result, our office recommends that the Audit Subcommittee consider postponing the in-depth budget review of USBE for at least one year.