Kansas’ wildfire suppression system is not adequately designed and resourced to effectively suppress wildfires based on best practices and a sample of other states. We compared Kansas’ wildfire suppression system to national best practices and systems in other Great Plains states. Kansas’ wildfire suppression structure generally aligned with best practices except that it relies on three entities instead of one. Kansas’ wildfire suppression system also has fewer state resources than other Great Plains states. Kansas’ lack of resources limits the availability of wildfire suppression training and the state’s ability to mitigate wildfire damage. Further, state and local officials reported education and coordination problems among entities involved in wildfire suppression. Finally, the state agencies involved in Kansas’ wildfire suppression system do not maintain complete wildfire management data. However, some large wildfires are unavoidable even if Kansas improves its wildfire suppression system.
Office of Information Technology Services: Reviewing the State’s
Options Related to the FirstNet Public Safety Network
The Office of Information Technology Services is responsible for providing information technology services including data processing and telecommunications services to state agencies. It is also the agency primarily responsible for working with the FirstNet Authority, a federal agency in charge of developing, building, and operating a nationwide, broadband network for first responders. Federal law gives states the option of selecting who builds the network in each state through an opt in or opt out process. Although the state could face some potential risks by opting in to FirstNet, it would have to overcome several significant challenges in order to successfully opt out. Opting in and allowing the FirstNet Authority to build and manage the state’s radio access network requires little effort, but does have some risks. Conversely, opting out would require the state to develop an alternative plan in about 6-9 months, which is a deadline the state is unlikely to meet. In addition, opting out would require Kansas to navigate an extensive approval process with multiple points of potential failure. Finally, opting out would require Kansas to develop a financing plan and negotiate with a third-party vendor to operate the state’s radio access network.
State of Kansas: OMB Circular A-133 Audit of Fiscal Year 2013
State law calls for an annual financial-compliance audit of the general purpose financial statements and “the financial affairs and transactions of a state agency required to comply with federal government audit requirements…” RubinBrown, under contract with Legislative Post Audit, conducted this two-part audit. The first part was the report on the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (report R-13-016, released in December 2013). This second part, the Report on Federal Awards in Accordance with OMB Circular A-133, reports on compliance with laws, regulations, and provisions of contracts and grant agreements.
The auditors concluded that the state complied, in all material respects, with the requirements applicable to each of the federal programs audited. However, the auditors reported 26 deficiencies in internal control. The auditors also identified questioned costs for a number of programs. Six of the findings were repeated from prior years.
State of Kansas: OMB Circular A-133 Audit of Fiscal Year 2012
State law calls for an annual financial-compliance audit of the general purpose financial statements and “the financial affairs and transactions of a state agency required to comply with federal government audit requirements…” RubinBrown, under contract with Legislative Post Audit, conducted this two-part audit. The first part was the report on the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (report R-13-005, released in March 2013). This second part, the Report on Federal Awards in Accordance with OMB Circular A-133, reports on compliance with laws, regulations, and provisions of contracts and grant agreements.
The auditors concluded that, except for the Unemployment Insurance program, the state complied, in all material respects, with the requirements applicable to each of the federal programs audited. However, the auditors reported 28 deficiencies in internal control, two of which were material weaknesses. The auditors also projected up to $73.4 million in questioned costs ($65,000 in known questioned costs). Six of the findings were repeated from prior years.
Kansas Lottery: Funding of Scholarships for Veterans
We looked to see whether the state’s National Guard Educational Assistance Program duplicates available federal benefits for members of the National Guard. We found that there is some limited duplication between the state’s program and federal Post 9-11 GI Bill (GI Bill), but eliminating the state’s program would significantly affect members of the Air National Guard. Specifically, state and GI Bill funding cover two different National Guard populations, although there is some overlap. Further, for veterans who are eligible for both the state and federal programs, it is rare that federal dollars could fully replace state benefits. Finally, eliminating the state’s National Guard Educational Assistance Program would have little impact on members of the Army National Guard, but would significantly affect members of the Air Guard. We also noted that while the National Guard Educational Assistance Program is supposed to be funded through the Lottery’s Veteran game, State General Fund monies have made up a significant portion of the program’s funding. Further, we noticed that language in the National Guard Educational Assistance Act may be outdated.
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: A Preliminary Assessment of the Risk That Recovery Act Moneys Won’t Be Appropriately Accounted for or Spent
The $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) requires unprecedented accountability and oversight of federal moneys being spent at the State and local levels. State agencies in Kansas will receive more than $2 billion in formula grants under the Act through 2011. The 2008 Statewide Single Audit had identified procedural or control weaknesses in four State programs that will be receiving ARRA moneys. Correction of those weaknesses, which related to things like reconciling records, improving eligibility determinations, and implementing computer edits to prevent improper payments, will be checked during the 2009 Single Audit. In eight other programs reviewed for this audit, the risk that agencies won’t comply with the requirements of ARRA appears to be relatively small. We found no weaknesses in the way that agencies are accounting for the ARRA moneys. However, in areas of monitoring and quarterly reporting, we found that officials from several of the programs needed to commit their procedures to writing to ensure consistency and, in a few cases, needed to further develop procedures or hire additional staff to ensure that monitoring or reporting functions could be carried out effectively. In separate work, we found that the Department of Transportation’s process for selecting highway projects to fund appears to comply with Recovery Act requirements.
Surplus Computer Equipment: Determining Whether State Agencies Effectively Remove Software and Agency Data From Surplus Computers
Agencies often don’t remove data from computers that are sold to the public through Surplus Property. We obtained computers from Surplus Property that had belonged to at least six Topeka-based State agencies and found data on 10 computers from four of those agencies. Of the 10 computers that still had data, seven had confidential documents, including thousands of Social Security numbers. It appeared that data weren’t properly removed because agencies lacked policies, relied on Surplus Property to do their work, or did a poor job of keeping track of which computers had been processed and which hadn’t. The State needs to strengthen its policy for removing data from computers and take appropriate steps to ensure that agencies are educated about the policy and are following it.
Reviewing the Hiring and Promotion Practices of the Public Safety Agencies: A K-GOAL Audit of the Adjutant General’s Office, Fire Marshal’s Office, Highway Patrol, and the KBI
Many public safety employees are dissatisfied with their agencies' hiring and promotion processes, and survey responses from all 4 agencies indicated the highest level of concern was with promotions. In all, 36 - 54% of survey respondents said their agencies' promotion processes weren't fair or objective. Our review of a random sample of hires and promotions from fiscal year 2003 and of a sample of complaints raised by employee surveys also found problems with agency hiring and promotion practices. For example, both the Fire Marshal's Office and the KBI used reallocation to promote some employees rather than filling positions through a competitive process. The Fire Marshal's Office, the Highway Patrol, and the KBI all hired or promoted some employees who didn't meet minimum job requirements Finally, the Adjutant General's Office, the Highway Patrol, and the KBI didn't have current position descriptions. Overall, the problems we saw generally were caused by agencies not following laws or their own policies, rather than a lack of policies. These problems may be compounded by the fact that the Division of Personnel Services has significantly curtailed its oversight of agency personnel practices.
Compliance and Control Audit: Adjutant General's Department