Completed Audits With Follow-Up
It is the mission of the Office of the Legislative Auditor General to serve the citizens of Utah by providing objective information, in-depth analyses, and useful recommendations that help legislators and other decision makers:
- Improve Programs
- Reduce Costs
- Promote Accountability
To achieve this mission, the office completes in-depth audits and special projects requested by the Legislature. Listed below are examples of recent audit contributions to each mission objective.
- Improving Programs
We identify changes in statute or agency policies and practices that can help programs more effectively achieve their purposes. For example:
- Our audit of three facilities operated by The Road Home found that drug use and safety concerns are serious problems faced by residents at the facilities. This was largely due to lax enforcement of rules and lack of written procedures at The Road Home. As a result, The Road Home and Shelter the Homeless have taken steps to adopt and clarify policy at their facilities. In addition, they have taken steps to improve safety and security by adding new security procedures.
- Our audit of the Department of Health's Division of Family Health and Preparedness improved oversight of child care providers and health facilities. Child Care Licensing revised their policies to impose stronger sanctions on providers who repeatedly violate rules intended to protect the health and safety of children or who commit an egregious violation for the first time. Health Facility Licensing developed a policy for imposing civil money penalties to ensure consistent application of sanctions and improved tracking of chronic and continuous non-compliance.
- As a result of our audit, the Utah Office of Inspector General of Medicaid Services (OIG) is improving its oversight of Medicaid claims, specifically claims made through Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). The OIG is also committed to setting annual targets for Medicaid claims to promote improved accountability from the Department of Health and ACOs. Finally, the OIG has improved its performance reporting practices so that its impact may be better measured.
- Our audit of the institutions of higher education found that seven of the eight institutions were not consistently tagging or tracking highly pilferable noncapital assets, despite many institution policies requiring it. We also found that these assets are vulnerable by successfully entering institutions' buildings after nightly lockup procedures. Because of the audit, the Utah State Board of Regents is creating a policy to standardize the treatment of noncapital assets, and institutions report actively working to secure doors.
- Reducing Costs
We find savings for Utah taxpayers by identifying ways to run programs more efficiently or collect revenues that agencies are failing to collect. For example:
- Our audit of the Division of Juvenile Justices Services (JJS) found that the cost per juvenile has been increasing over the past years, and that this was not a metric that the division was tracking or reporting. In addition, we found that JJS did not complete comprehensive cost benefit analysis for capital projects. Lastly, JJS lacked a written strategic plan that could provide the Legislature and the public with vital information concerning their goals and objectives. We recommended the Legislature consider taking steps to control the increasing costs. During the 2018 General Session, JJS's budget was reduced by $2.2 million dollars.
- Our audit of the Carson Smith Scholarship Program found three areas for cost reductions. First, inappropriate scholarship payments totaling $94,489. Scholarship awards need to follow program guidelines. Second, after reviewing files of 97 students receiving Level 2 scholarships, a consulting psychologist questioned if 76 students should be eligible for Level 2 scholarships. An indepth review of 24 student assessments found that only five students should be receiving a Level 2 scholarship. If these results hold true for the 76 students questioned, scholarship payments should have been $200,000 less in fiscal year 2017. Third, we reviewed a sample of student files and found that 17 percent of parent verification forms and scholarship checks had unauthorized or missing signatures. We projected that about $387,000 was deposited in fiscal year 2017 without proper verification.
- Promoting Accountability
We provide information that helps decision makers address important issues, including the adequacy of governance structures. For example:
- Our audit of the ProStart initiative funding found a need for better accountability. Recommendations were made to better justify expenses invoiced to USBE from the private vendor. USBE was asked to better monitor expenses by consistently applying financial controls, obtaining necessary documentation, and requiring justification and approval for expenses.
- Our follow-up audit on the projections of Utah's water needs promoted the accountability of municipal water systems to implement the Legislature's requirement that they adopt a tiered pricing structure for water services. This audit found that many cities still had flat rate structures despite the new tiered pricing requirement. The Rural Water Association of Utah has surveyed its members and reported in November 2018 that 64 percent reported an “increasing rate structure.” This feedback from the Association can help insure implementation of the tiered pricing requirement.
- Our audit of the Qualified Health Insurance (QHI) statute recommends increased oversight of qualifying contractors and overall oversight of the QHI statute. In the 2018 General Session, the Legislature addressed the issue of complex contracts and overall QHI compliance with the introduction of House Bill 428. New legislation and increased compliance with the QHI statute will result in qualifying contractors offering better healthcare packages to their employees.
- Our audit of secondary school fees found widespread violations of state law by the Utah State Board of Education (USBE), school districts, high schools, and charter schools. We made several specific recommendations to clarify policy and increase compliance with law that have informed proposed USBE policy actions and started an important discussion about this topic leading into the 2019 General Session.
- Our audit on the best practices for internal control of local entities is helping to improve local oversight and control of Utah's special districts and other local entities. Our report led to the passage of S.B. 28 which requires these limited purpose entities to register with the Lt. Governor and to comply with the state's financial reporting and transparency requirements. The Utah Association of Special Districts reports that our audit and the legislation have helped local board members become more aware of their responsibility to provide effective oversight and financial control of the entities they serve.
Legislative Action Items
Based on issues addressed and recommendations made in our 2017 and 2018 audits, we believe the Legislature should consider the following items during the 2019 General Session. Whether the Legislature chooses to act on the following items depends on legislative policy decisions that are outside the audit arena.
- What Does the Office of the Legislative Auditor General Do?
OLAG may audit or review the work of any state agency, local government entity, or any entity that receives state funds. State law authorizes OLAG to review all records, documents, and reports of any entity that it is authorized to audit, notwithstanding any other provision of law.
OLAG's audits may have multiple objectives and many formats. OLAG publishes the findings of these audits in reports that are written for the Legislature but available to the public.
OLAG staff also provides assistance to the Legislature in the form of special projects. Examples of this type of service include studies of driving privilege cards and state entity prescription drug purchasing practices.
- How Are Audits Initiated?
Any legislator can make an audit request simply by writing a letter to the Legislative Audit Subcommittee. This letter should identify specific issues of concern that should be addressed by the requested audit. While a letter of request can originate from one legislator, the request may have more influence if it is signed by a group of legislators or by the legislators on a committee.
Once the request is received, the Legislative Audit Subcommittee will prioritize it in the order that subcommittee members determine to be appropriate. Issues given high priority are those that will confront the Legislature in the next session or have the potential for a significant statewide impact.
- What Is the Audit Process?
An audit will be staffed according to its priority assignment and staff availability. Once an audit is staffed, an auditor generally contacts the legislator(s) requesting the audit to discuss their concerns and identify when the audit results are needed.
If all the audit questions cannot be answered in the necessary time frame, the auditors will work with the legislator(s) to identify the most critical questions. Once the audit is complete, the report is presented to the Legislative Audit Subcommittee, which then releases it to the appropriate legislative committees and the public.
- What Is the Purpose of This Annual Report?
This report fulfills requirements set forth in Utah Code 36-12-15(11), which states that "(a) Prior to each annual general session, the legislative auditor general shall prepare a summary of the audits conducted and of actions taken based upon them during the preceding year. (b) This report shall also set forth any items and recommendations that are important for consideration in the forthcoming session, together with a brief statement or rationale for each item or recommendation."