2005 Legislative Audits
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1. Summary of Report 2005-01 : OFFICE OF THE GUARDIAN AD LITEM
Our review of Guardian files confirmed that some statutory duties are not completed. Towards this end, the Guardian director needs to establish policies for the management of the Guardian program. In addition, while we generally concur that Guardian case loads are high, we question the accuracy of the Guardian's internal data. Finally, we conclude that the oversight structure of the Guardian program should be reexamined by the Legislature. Although the Judicial Council is the statutorily-defined governing body of the Guardian, it deliberately provides only limited supervision of the Guardian program because there is an ethical problem of judges supervising advocates who appear before them in court proceedings.
2. Summary of Report 2005-02: UTAH HIGH SCHOOL ACTIVITIES ASSOCIATION
Over the past year, the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) has made policy changes to improve the overall consistency in its hearing processes on athletic transfers during a student's high school years. However, there have been continuing questions regarding pre-high school transfers that, due to state open enrollment policies, are outside UHSAA control. A review of transfers at all grade levels shows that while a few transfers do appear questionable, overall the problem is one of perception. However, due to a lack of comprehensive record keeping on student transfers in the schools, it is difficult to get a true grasp of the actual numbers of student-athletics who transfer.
3. Summary of Report 2005-03: A LIMITED REVIEW OF THE USOE'S USE OF THE SUPERINTENDENT'S DISCRETIONARY FUND
The use of the Superintendent's Discretionary Fund by the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) does not appear concerning. Based on a limited expenditure review, fund expenditures appear reasonable. Also, it does not appear that expenditures from this fund circumvented legislative intent. Of particular concern was the possibility that funds allocated for a specific legislative purpose could end up in the Discretionary Fund and be spent for another purpose. However, not all funds placed within the Discretionary Fund lose their identity. Some funds are designated for specific purposes.
Digest of the Report - A Limited Review of the USOE's Use of the Superintendent's Discretionary Fund
4. Summary of Report 2005-04: BEST PRACTICES IN USING TECHNOLOGY IN PUBLIC EDUCATION
This report highlights best practices that appear to be working in various schools and districts that may be of benefit to others. Best practice reviews seek to build upon successful local efforts by identifying and publicizing efficient approaches to providing government services. Some best practices highlighted are:
- providing sufficient technical support.
- providing stable funding tied to short and long-term plans.
- setting equipment standards.
- conducing an annual Total Cost of Ownership review.
Full Report - Best Practices in Using Technology in Public Education
5. Summary of Report 2005-05: A PERFORMANCE AUDIT OF THE TIMELINESS OF CIVIL CASES IN DISTRICT COURT
We were asked to review the overall timeliness of the handling of civil cases in District Court because of legislators' interest in two long-running District Court cases.Our review found that improvements are needed at the local level in the case management tools used by judges and clerks; at the statewide level, overall timeliness goals or standards are needed and monitoring of case timeliness can improve.
6. Summary of Report 2005-06: A PERFORMANCE AUDIT OF NEBO SCHOOL DISTRICT'S ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROLS
A review of specific Nebo School District controls did not identify significant problems. While some policies and procedures can be improved, our review of travel expenditures, administrator salaries, and board meetings did not appear extraordinary.
Digest of the Report - A Performance Audit of Nebo School District's Administrative Controls
7. Summary of Report 2005-07: A REVIEW OF THE PUBLIC EDUCATION RETIREMENT BENEFITS
Public education post-retirement benefit programs have a potential total liability of $1.4 billion. About $954 million of this liability has been accrued by current employees with prior years service and is, for the most part, unfunded. The remaining $500 million represents future costs that will result if the programs are allowed to continue unchecked. Therefore it is necessary for public education to modify or eliminate offered benefits and develop a plan to fund the remaining liability without compromising educational services or requiring additional taxpayer assistance.
Full Report - A Review of the Public Education Retirement Benefits
8. Summary of Report 2005-08: A REVIEW OF SCHOOL BOARDS CLOSED MEETINGS
Most of Utah's local school boards do not fully comply with Utah's Open Meetings Act. Specifically, most school boards we reviewed are not keeping adequate records, are not reviewing the minutes they do keep, and are following questionable closed meeting practices making it impossible to determine the appropriateness of many closed meeting discussions. School boards' actions do not comply with the law and raise concern that school boards may be circumventing the legislative intent of the Open Meetings Act that the "peoples business" be done openly and in public view.
Digest of the Report - A Review of School Board's Closed Meetings
Full Report - A Review of School Board's Closed Meetings
9. Summary of Report 2005-09: AUDIT SURVEY RESULTS REGARDING MOUNTAINLAND ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNMENTS (MAG)
We question the usefulness of proceeding with a full audit of the MAG building. While there is a question of whether the MAG building met the general eligibility standard for Community Development Block Grant funds, it is unlikely that the current federal grant administrators would take any action to have funds repaid. Further, an audit of fringe benefits also appears unnecessary. While benefits were initially calculated at a high rate, those benefits were later adjusted to a more reasonable rate. Although audits do not appear necessary in these areas, there are other areas that could be pursued such as adequate governance of associations of governments such as MAG and the operations and oversight of MAG.
10. Summary of Report 2005-10: A PERFORMANCE AUDIT OF THE DIVISION OF FLEET OPERATIONS
Vehicle information should be monitored more consistently to promote cost-effective fleet management. For example, the use of exception reports by state agencies, a key control to identify poor vehicle management or inappropriate use of state vehicles, should be improved. We also found that Utah's fleet utilization program can be enhanced and the efficiency of the daily pool can be improved. In particular, the size of the daily pool can reduced in both vehicles and locations.
Full Report - A Performance Audit of the Division of Fleet Operations
11. Summary of Report 2005-11: A PERFORMANCE AUDIT OF THE BUREAU OF CHILD CARE LICENSING
Some of the practices of the Bureau of Child Care Licensing (BCCL) do not comply with either the law or administrative rules. Although prohibited by state law, the BCCL is granting child care licenses and residential certificates to individuals who have been convicted of serious crimes. In addition, the BCCL has granted rule variances without meeting the required criteria. Also, while most of Utah's child care providers believe the state's regulations are fair, we found a few rules that appear to be too harsh and should be reconsidered. We are also concerned about the inconsistent practices observed among the licensing specialists.
Full Report - A Performance Audit of the Bureau Child Care Licensing
12. Summary of Report 2005-12: A REVIEW OF HIGHER EDUCATION'S POST-RETIREMENT BENEFITS
Utah higher education's post-retirement benefits, offered in addition to employee pensions, have not yet been fully acknowledged. As a result, we estimate Utah universities, colleges, and applied technology centers have a potential benefit liability of approximately $979 million. About $633 million of this $979 liability is committed to current employees with prior years of service and is, for the most part, unfunded. The remainder represents the additional costs that will result if the programs are allowed to continue unchecked.
Full Report - A Review of Higher Education's Post-Retirement Benefits
13. Summary of Report 2005-13: A PERFORMANCE AUDIT OF THE OFFICE OF RECOVERY SERVICES
Several options exist which could improve the effectiveness of child support collections. First, increased administrative enforcement authority would allow ORS to augment child support collections. Second, ORS should more aggressively pursue debt using existing or statutorily allowed enforcement methods. Third, ORS should reevaluate their use of the Attorneys General (AGs) in the Division of Child and Family Support.We also reviewed several ORS practices to determine the appropriateness of some decisions, in particular the writing off of arrears (or back child support) owed to taxpayers. During our review, we found that ORS has valid reasons for their practices of writing off arrears and closing uncollectible cases.
Full Report - A Performance Audit of the Office of Recovery Services
14. Summary of Report 2005-14: A SURVEY OF MANAGEMENT CONTROLS IN THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
We conducted a limited scope review of the recently created Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED) to assess whether management controls are being instituted. GOED has formally existed since July 1, 2005. Overall, we believe that much progress has been made; however, some management controls are still in process and little actual performance data are available as of yet. Furthermore, any data that are available would only represent performance over a fairly limited time span.
Digest of the Report - A Survey of Management Controls in the Governor's Ofifce of Economic Development