2013 Legislative Audits
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1. Summary of Report 2013-01: A Performance Audit of Utah's Child Welfare System
Utah’s child welfare system annually spends about $172 million. Each year, DCFS receives about 37,000 referrals of abuse and neglect, which, for fiscal year 2012, resulted in 2,360 new children receiving in-home services and 2,004 new children placed into foster care. DCFS changes in response to statutory revisions and a prior legislative audit resulted in fewer investigations, supported referrals, and DCFS involvement. Without these changes, about 1,800 more children may have entered the system. While statute calls for kinship placement when possible, Utah’s rate is below the national median. DCFS’s parental reunification rate is slightly better than the national average, resulting in about 65 percent of children being reunited with either parents (41 percent) or relatives (24 percent). Currently, of the 2,700 children in foster care, about 23 percent remain in care longer than 24 months. Long-term stays are concerning because youth who do not achieve permanency by age 18 are vulnerable to undesirable outcomes.
Full Report - A Performance Audit of Utah's Child Welfare System
2. Summary of Report 2013-02: A Performance Audit of Utah College of Applied Technology Programs and Funding
This audit focuses on Utah College of Applied Technology (UCAT) programs and their student-generated funding. Recent changes to accreditation program outcome standards have helped UCAT campuses improve completion and placement rates. These program outcomes should be helpful as the Legislature reviews UCAT programs. A low tuition rate has shifted student costs toward fees, which suggests additional oversight and monitoring of fees by the UCAT Board of Trustees is needed. In a related area, UCAT’s Custom Fit program, which subsidizes workforce training, lacks the program objectives and measures necessary to effectively target economic development. In addition, UCAT’s role in secondary education needs clarification regarding whether campus instruction in core high school graduation required courses is appropriate.
3. Summary of Report 2013-03: A Performance Audit of The Labor Commission's Adjudication Division
Auditors were asked to evaluate whether the Utah Labor Commission is resolving workers’ compensation claims in a timely and fair manner. Although the majority of adjudicated claims are resolved within the required timeframe, about 25 percent of claims are not. Additionally, no direct evidence of bias was found. However, actions by administrative law judges and medical panel members have led to a perception of bias which can damage public confidence in the adjudication system. The report also raises concerns regarding the medical panels which are often asked to examine an injured worker’s medical condition. Giving medical panels greater training and oversight may help reduce the time needed to process claims and avoid the perception that the adjudication process is biased.
4. Summary of Report 2013-04: A Performance Audit of Sand and Gravel Air Quality Permitting and Compliance
All conditions of air quality permits have not always been enforced, which raises concern. The Minor Source Compliance Section, which oversees sand and gravel compliance, should enforce the approved permit. In addition, case management within DAQ permitting provides little assurance that permits are handled in a timely fashion. The timeliness of air quality permits is an important question that DAQ needs to address. To do this, DAQ’s permitting branch needs to improve their case management, improve permit file documentation and then use that documentation to analyze permit timeliness.
5. Summary of Report 2013-05: A Performance Audit of Higher Education's Competition with the Private Sector
Our review indicates that higher education business enterprises are increasingly encroaching on the private sector. The University of Utah’s off-campus Red Zone stores are in violation of both Board of Regent’s and university policy by advertising to the general public and providing services that are not incidental to normal operations. Other business enterprises on Utah campuses also appear to be in violation Board of Regent policy R555. In addition, we reviewed a sales tax issue because of an allegation raised by an Ogden area business about Weber State University (WSU) bookstore practices. The Tax Commission confirmed that WSU does not need to charge sales tax on computer-related products sold to students. However, the Legislature should consider clarifying states tax policy on sales by universities and colleges.
6. Summary of Report 2013-06: A Limited Review of Fugitives and Inmate Inappropriately Receiving Public Assistance
Some fugitives and inmates are inappropriately receiving public assistance benefits. Although our review was limited to a one-month time period, we found 414 public assistance benefits were active for 281 fugitives and 209 public assistance benefits were active for 179 inmates. These results represent about 2 percent of the incarcerated population and 25 percent of the fugitive population supervised by the Utah Department of Corrections (UDC). Concerns raised in this report would likely be much greater if a public assistance match was performed on all inmates and fugitives in the state. For example, our match was limited to the 1,100 fugitives supervised by the UDC; but information we obtained from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) showed that, in June 2013, there were about 216,000 fugitives (warrants) in the state. We do not know to what extent those individuals are receiving public assistance, but if it is close to the rate we found at UDC, concerns raised in this report would be greatly amplified.
7. Summary of Report 2013-07: A Performance Audit of The Utah Insurance Department
This report found resident producers (agents) responded favorably to a variety of survey questions regarding the department’s activities. However, a quarter of licensees feel the department does not provide easy access to information regarding law and rule changes. A second survey sent to individuals who have been investigated by the Market Conduct Division (the primary focus of this audit) showed that the division could improve its communication with respondents. Our review of division investigation cases found that 88 percent of the monetary penalties were consistent with the guidelines, but 12 percent needed additional documentation. The investigation files also lacked adequate documentation in several other areas. In addition, the division needs policies and procedures to guide communication and case management practices.
Full Report - A Performance Audit of The Utah Insurance Department
8. Summary of Report 2013-08: A Performance Audit of the Division of Adult Probation and Parole
The Division of Adult Probation and Parole (AP&P) lacks guidelines for violation response, including when to recommend offenders be sent to prison (supervision revocation). Our audit found significantly different rates of supervision revocation among AP&P offices throughout Utah. This variation results in disparate treatment of offenders in the state. We also found that AP&P is not consistently applying evidence-based practices, thereby weakening their positive impact on offender outcomes. If AP&P could achieve more effective community supervision outcomes and a lower recidivism rate, it could result in savings of $2.6 million per year or more. However, we caution that these numbers are estimates and generally realized through cost savings in the form of avoiding new prison space, rather than operational savings from AP&P. Finally, we believe that much of the improvement needed can be done within AP&P; but, many other agencies and stakeholders must participate to achieve successful community supervision of offenders.
9. Summary of Report 2013-09: An In-Depth Budget Review of the Utah Department of Corrections
The Utah Department of Corrections (UDC) can improve efficiency in several budget areas and save state funds. For example we found that the Draper prison can save about $1 million annually through better food management, and $240,000 annually by adjusting food portion sizes given to female inmates. We also found that there are approximately $560,000 in potential annual savings through better contracting, oversight, and claim payment automation in the clinical services area of UDC. We also report the need for a better cost comparison with county jails in the jail contracting program, as well as the need for performance measures at UDC’s Utah Correctional Industries. The report also comments on the need for UDC to be more transparent with the Legislature when presenting budgetary information, specifically regarding recent staff pay increases.
10. Summary of Report 2013-10: A Performance Audit of Health Insurance Contracting in Higher Education
We were asked to review whether pooling employee health insurance for all institutions of higher education and applied technology colleges as a single entity would lead to cost savings for the state. Our review we found that 59 percent of institutions pool their employees’ health insurance benefits with other groups’ plans. However, most of the larger institutions, which employ the greatest number of staff, create their own separate pools and insurance programs. We believe a full compensation study is needed to truly compare the value of the institutions’ health insurance packages, which can then be used to determine if overall savings are possible through pooling. We also reviewed the effect that a new law has on these institutions’ current practices when issuing a request for proposal process (RFP) for health insurance. We found that policies addressing the frequency of when to conduct an RFP could help institutions comply with the new law concerning contract term limits.
11. Summary of Report 2013-11: A Review of Appropriated Wolf Management Funds
In the last four years, the State of Utah has given $800,000 to private organizations to pursue bringing wolf management authority to the state level. Although there is evidence that the funds were spent appropriately, the contract lacked sufficient safeguards to track and assure that the funds’ use followed state requirements.
Full Report - A Review of Appropriated Wolf Management Funds
12. Summary of Report 2013-12: A Performance Audit of the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR)
We found that USTAR’s reported return on investment (ROI) was inaccurate and flawed. Over half of the reported revenues was unrealized, invalid, and overreported. Jobs created were also inflated and USTAR’s reported ROI was not reflective of an expansion of tax revenue to the state. Also, USTAR has inadequately supervised research team funding, insufficiently overseen its research facilities, and has not effectively managed its outreach programs. Lastly, USTAR needs to improve the administration and governance of its operations. Since fiscal year 2007, the public invested almost $334 million in USTAR to support new university research teams, construct research facilities, and establish technology outreach programs across the state.
13. Summary of Report 2013-13: A Performance Audit of the Workforce Services Work Environment
Changes at the Department of Workforce Services (DWS) have contributed to an atmosphere of frustration and unrest among past and present employees. The lack of program baseline measurements has been detrimental to the design and implementation of programs, including an incentive program which inappropriately benefits managers and supervisors in the program; a review process that is inconsistent and at times biased; and additional changes in structure and management, which have contributed to unrest within the department.