NLPES Awards Program

Fifteen States Win 2000 NLPES Certificates of Recognition of Impact

 

The NLPES announces that fifteen states were awarded the NLPES Certificates of Recognition of Impact in 2000 for reports that had a demonstrated impact on their states.  Winners are as follows:

Arizona Office of the Auditor General
William Thompson, Director, Performance Audit Division
Department of Building and Fire Safety (September 1999): This audit looked at how well the Arizona State Fire Marshal's Office was carrying out its responsibilities for conducting fire safety inspections of public buildings, including all public/private/charter schools in the State, as well as a number of other state- and county-owned buildings. The auditors found, among other things, that the State Fire Marshall could not show that safety inspections had been conducted in many of the state's public buildings, including 42 percent of Arizona's charter schools. Release of this audit resulted in many improvements, including a reduction of the number of outstanding fire safety inspections; better record keeping with regard to the buildings needing inspections; and improved risk assessment, inspection prioritization, and follow-up procedures.

California Bureau of State Audits
Mary P. Noble, Acting State Auditor
California Science Center: The State Has Relinquished Control to the Foundation and Poorly Protected Its Interests (April 1999): The California Science Center is a new, state-of-the-art museum, built with the primary purpose of stimulating citizen interest in science, industry, and economics. During its review of the Center, the California Bureau of State Audits found that, in an attempt to utilize a public-private partnership, the State had essentially relinquished control of the Center to a foundation, even though state funding was still the museum's primary source of support. Beyond the central finding that state-appointed executives were not properly protecting the State's interests, the audit found serious financial, management, and legal problems at the Center including what appeared to be some fraudulent activity. As a result of the audit, a new park manager was appointed, a new organizational structure was adopted, better management controls were instituted, and proceedings were initiated to recover hundreds of thousands of misused dollars.

Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability
John Turcotte, Executive Director
Program Evaluation and Justification Review - Support Program Administered by the Dept. of Management Services (August 1998): This justification review brought together the results of two previous OPPAGA studies that concluded many state-owned vehicles were inappropriately assigned to state employees, which was resulting in higher than necessary fleet-related costs. The report identified several ways that vehicle assignments and acquisitions could be better managed, saving the State an estimated $5.2 million over a six-year period. Among other improvements resulting from this review, the Florida Legislature enacted legislation modifying the ways state agencies use and assign vehicles to their employees.

Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts
Russell W. Hinton, State Auditor
Operations of the Community-Based Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse Programs Administered by Dept. of Human Resources and Community Mental Health Services Program Administered by the Dept. of Medical Assistance (February 1999): This audit provided an in-depth review of Georgia's mental health, mental retardation, and substance abuse treatment systems administered by the Departments of Human Resources and Medical Assistance. One unique feature of the audit was a review of the appropriateness and effectiveness of the treatment services provided by the system. This part of the review was facilitated by using a group of consultants with professional expertise in the areas of mental health, developmental disabilities, therapy, and substance abuse treatment. Adopting this approach allowed the auditors to assess not only the operations and accountability of the system but also the quality of care provided to system users. The audit found widespread deficiencies in the quality of treatment services, problems with the qualifications of treatment providers, and over $1 million in unallowable Medicaid claims, among other things. Since the audit, the agencies involved have made numerous policy and operational changes, and savings attributable to the audit's recommendations have totaled nearly $23 million.

Hawaii Office of the State Auditor
Marion M. Higa, State Auditor
Audit of the Child Protective Services System (January 1999): This audit reviewed Hawaii's system for managing child abuse and neglect cases. This system had been criticized because of some highly-publicized cases where children under its jurisdiction had died. The audit found gaps in both the reporting and disposition of child abuse and neglect cases and recommended several improvements. Among other impacts, the audit contributed to the passage of several reform bills by the Legislature. In addition, the audit prompted an improvement in the timeliness of permanent custody reviews and increased sharing of serious abuse and neglect case information among social service and law enforcement agencies.

Idaho Office of Performance Evaluations
Nancy Van Maren, Director
The State Board of Pharmacy's Regulation of Prescription Controlled Substances (June 1999): In mid-1999, the Idaho Office of Performance Evaluations released this review of the Board of Pharmacy's effectiveness in handling complaints about the abuse or diversion of prescription controlled substances. The review found that many improvements were needed, including better documentation of investigative work, improved methods for electronic tracking of prescriptions, and more frequent communication with the Board. Idaho reports that the Board has implemented most of the recommendations contained in the review and work on the remainder is under way.

Illinois Office of the Auditor General
William Holland, Auditor General
Management Audit of Pilsen-Little Village Community Mental Health Center, Inc. (August 1999): This audit reviewed management practices at a community mental health center in Chicago that received most of its support from state sources. During the review, the audit team identified over $300,000 in questionable expenditures at the Center and other problems related to contracts, billing processes, and personnel practices. Illinois reports that the audit resulted in significant changes at the Center, including the resignation of Pilsen's Chief Executive Officer and several members of its board. There are also several additional investigations now under way as a result of the audit­most of them focusing on recovering misspent state funds. The audit also helped to identify more systemic weaknesses in the methods state agencies were using to monitor the appropriateness of expenditures made by local social service providers. These weaknesses are now being corrected.

Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit
Barbara J. Hinton, Legislative Post Auditor
Reviewing Issues Related to Community Colleges' Customized Employee Training Courses (August 1998): This review looked at a program established by the Kansas Department of Education that was designed to help the State's 19 community colleges fund customized training programs for Kansas business and industry. Legislative concerns about a particular customized training program offered for workers at two beef processing plants prompted the audit. The audit team found many problems, including "overpayments" of about $600,000 a year to the two plants involved with the program. After the audit was released, the controversial training program was canceled. In addition, Kansas reports that its Department of Education has issued new guidelines for the operation of customized training programs that should help ensure problems do not reoccur.

Massachusetts Senate Post Audit and Oversight Bureau
Joel A. Barrera, Director
Warranting Improvement: Reforming the Arrest Warrant Management System (January 1999): This audit reviewed Massachusetts' system for handling arrest warrants. At the time of the audit, there was a backlog of more than 275,000 outstanding warrants. The audit showed that, among other problems, law enforcement officials were not actively looking for wanted individuals in most cases and the Motor Vehicles Registry was not complying with statutes prohibiting the issuance of drivers licenses to persons with outstanding warrants. As a result of the audit, a task force was convened to address certain problems with legacy warrants, legislation was introduced and has passed in the Massachusetts Senate to effect some of the improvements called for in the audit report, and various administrative and procedural changes were made at the agency level.

Michigan Office of the Auditor General
Thomas McTavish, Auditor General
Performance Audit of Juvenile Justice Services: Family Independence Agency (April 1999): This performance audit assessed the effectiveness of Michigan's Family Independence Agency, which provides various services to delinquent youths in the State. The audit found problems in several programmatic areas including treatment, placement, residential care, and community reintegration. Since the audit, the agency has developed a comprehensive corrective action plan to address the 24 recommendations in the report. As such, the Auditor General's Office reports that substantial changes are now under way to improve effectiveness of services to delinquent youths in Michigan.

Utah Office of the Legislative Auditor General
Wayne L. Welsh, Legislative Auditor General
Utah Department of Corrections (November 1998): This audit looked at several programmatic areas at the Utah Department of Corrections including employee training and compensation, inmate treatment programs, the cost of housing state prisoners in county jails, and private prison operations, among others. As a result of the audit, several program improvements are now under way including changes to the training requirements for correctional officers seeking peace officer certification. Utah also reports that this audit report was used to initiate legislation in the 1999 Legislative Session aimed modifying the way counties are paid for housing state inmates and also to increase appropriations for correctional officers' salaries. The Legislative Auditor also reports that internal auditors at the Utah Department of Corrections' are now using their methodology for determining daily inmate housing costs at county jails as a result of the audit.

Virginia Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission
Philip A. Leone, Director
Preliminary Inquiry: DEQ and VDH Activities to Identify Water Toxic Problems & Inform the Public (July 1999): This review looked at issues surrounding Virginia's monitoring and reporting of toxic substances in state waters. The main finding of the audit was that the responsible state agencies were not providing timely, useful information to the public (such as fish consumption advisories) about potential health hazards. The audit had several impacts. Among other effects, legislation passed in the 2000 Legislative Session increased the frequency of the State's cycle for conducting fish tissue and sediment assessments so that problems could be identified and addressed more rapidly. The responsible state agencies are also now developing formal policies and procedures to clearly identify the circumstances under which fish consumption advisories will be issued and the factors that will trigger a toxic contamination assessment.

Washington Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee
Thomas M. Sykes, Legislative Auditor
Rural Area Marketing Plan Evaluation (November 1999): This evaluation of the Rural Area Marketing Plan arose out of sunset legislation directing the Washington JLARC to review two economic development tax initiatives. Although the review included recommendations related specifically to the Rural Area Marketing Plan, a second, more important impact came out of the review. Specifically, this review became a catalyst for the first restructuring of Washington's sunset law. Since the law was enacted, JLARC has been the legislative agency responsible for conducting sunset reviews in Washington. Over the years, conducting these reviews had been difficult since many programs had little information that could be used to assess their impact/outcomes. The changes to the sunset law that resulted from this evaluation will help ensure programs have performance data available before a sunset review is even initiated. As Washington's submission stated, having a "front end" to the sunset review process will clarify and strengthen one of the evaluation and performance audit tools available to JLARC.

Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau
Janice Mueller, State Auditor
A Review of the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics - University of Wisconsin- Madison (October 1999): This audit reviewed budget and expenditure issues at the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The audit highlighted the fact that despite substantial increases in revenues from income-generating athletic programs and private donations, the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics had incurred a deficit of over $1 million in Fiscal Year 1999 and was budgeting for a $600,000 deficit in Fiscal Year 2000. Losses were attributable to a large extent to the University's participation in post-season football competition (e.g., Rose Bowl appearances). Since the audit, the University has changed its travel reimbursement policies related to post-season athletic competition, resulting in savings of over $525,000. Other program improvements stemming from the audit include the consolidation of several staff positions, the adoption of a more streamlined organizational structure, and the development of a long-range financial/capital development plan.

Wyoming Legislative Services Office
Barbara Rogers, Program Evaluation Manager
Community College Governance (May 1999): This performance audit looked at the system of governance for Wyoming's community college system, which had long been a source of tension among system participants. In fact, when this audit started, tension was at an all-time high, culminating in a lawsuit filed by the colleges against the Wyoming Community College Commission. The audit used a number of techniques to more narrowly identify the sources of tension within the system and then recommended changes to eliminate problems. Among other impacts, two key pieces of legislation resulted from this review. As the Wyoming submission stated, the audit report helped the Legislature put itself into an informed position from which it could create legislation that clearly and comprehensively set out its intent with respect to community college governance and coordination.