The Department of Agriculture’s Weights and Measures Program helps ensure the accuracy of commercial measuring devices and price systems. Among other things, program staff inspect point-of-sale systems (e.g., electronic scanners in grocery stores or retail businesses) for price accuracy across the state. We found the program’s price verification process did not appear to provide sufficient coverage of those systems. That is because state law includes few requirements for price verification inspections and the program considered them a low priority. The program inspected point-of-sale systems at 365 business in fiscal year 2018, which is likely only a fraction of all point-of-sale systems in the state. Moreover, more than half (59%) of the businesses inspected in fiscal year 2018 failed a price verification inspection.
Statewide Single Audit State of Kansas Fiscal Year 2018
The Department of Agriculture’s Animal Facilities Inspection Program is responsible for licensing and inspecting the state’s 940 animal facilities. As part of this audit, we reviewed the program's policies and practices for inspecting and penalizing facilities, its staffing and management, and its outputs (e.g., the number of licensed animal facilities). With regard to each of these areas, we found:
• The program did not have adequate policies to ensure consistent inspections, but the seven inspections we observed were consistent. It also did not have adequate policies or practices to ensure appropriate penalties.
• The program appeared to operate efficiently, but some areas related to program management and staffing could be improved to help the program operate more effectively.
• The number of licensed animal breeders and their percentage of failed inspections declined slightly in recent years. Additionally, the program did not fully address most of the findings from our 2002 audit.
State Agency Information Systems: Reviewing Security Controls in Selected State Agencies – Department of Agriculture (CY 2015)
Although Kansas has several agencies involved in water management, the organizational structure isn’t out of line compared to other western states. In addition, we found very few problems with the current structure, and State and local officials told us the system doesn’t need significant changes. State officials went on to cite the Natural Resources Sub-Cabinet as a major reason for better coordination among water-related agencies. We estimated that creating a single State water agency may yield between $300,000 and $7 million in administrative savings, with the actual savings likely to be on the lower end of that estimate. We also identified a few opportunities for State agencies to improve their coordination and make their programs more efficient without consolidating. Those opportunities include having field staff from different agencies collaborate, improve the monitoring of Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies (WRAPS) projects and taking steps to share water data more efficiently among themselves and with the public.
Agency Data Centers: A K-GOAL Audit Assessing the Potential Savings of Consolidation
As of 2007, at least 27 states were pursuing data center consolidation, and 22 states had completed or were partially done with consolidation. Kansas and four other states were proposing data center consolidation in 2007, and Kansas currently is still in the planning stage. The 2010 Legislature directed the Division of Information Systems and Communications (DISC) to complete an information technology consolidation study by the 2011 legislative session. Data center consolidation is an expensive and difficult process, but server virtualization—replacing several physical servers with a single host server that simulates several—is a relatively new step agencies can take to save money and prepare for future data center consolidation. We selected five large agencies that have about half the physical servers in the State, and found those agencies already had virtualized many servers, saving an estimated $600,000 to date. We estimate these five agencies could save an additional $400,000 to $1 million over three years by virtualizing their remaining servers. Additionally, we estimate the State potentially could save about $1.3 million over three years if smaller and mid-sized agencies leased virtualized servers from DISC, rather than maintaining their own physical servers. However, these savings depend on agencies’ willingness to participate, and agency officials have expressed concerns with DISC’s costs and customer service.
Agricultural-Related Agencies: A K-GOAL Audit Determining Whether Cost Savings Could Be Achieved By Making the Animal Health Department and the Conservation Commission Part of the Department of Agriculture
Kansas is one of six states that doesn’t place any of its animal health oversight or conservation grant functions within its Department of Agriculture. The remaining 44 states have varying degrees of those functions placed under their Department of Agriculture. Kansas could save about $710,000 a year by merging the two agencies with the Department of Agriculture. About $630,000 of the savings comes from eliminating or restructuring staff positions, while about $80,000 comes from other operating costs reductions. Although agency officials expressed concerns about restructuring, we found those issues could be overcome. During this audit, we identified other issues regarding the operations of the Animal Health Department and the Conservation Commission. For example, the Animal Health Department hasn’t fully developed and implemented policy manuals and criteria for assessing the results of inspections--these items were recommended in a previous audit issued in 2002. Other issues related to the efficient use of staff and technology need to be studied by management at both agencies.
Department of Agriculture: Reviewing the Grain Warehouse Inspection Program
The Grain Warehouse Inspection Program follows a number of good practices in licensing and monitoring grain warehouses, but other weaknesses impair the Program's ability to adequately protect farmers who store grain in State-licensed warehouses. (None of the Program's protections apply to farmers who participate in sale contracts; several other states provide some protections under their grain dealer laws for these transactions.) Kansas' financial requirements, such as bonding, aren't as stringent as those of other states, and some states do more analysis of warehouses' financial solvency. Program staff perform very limited evaluations of the quality of grain stored in warehouses, examiners don't consistently write up all the problems they identify during examinations, and oversight of examiners is inadequate to ensure they carry out all Program responsibilities appropriately and consistently. Further, Program staff allowed at least two warehouses' grain quality problems to continue without taking appropriate enforcement action. Part of the problem stems from the Department's belief that staff don't have the statutory authority to force warehouses to correct problems with grain that is infested or otherwise in poor condition. We think the statute is general enough to give them this authority. We also note that Kansas is the only one of six programs we reviewed that doesn't have authority to impose fines. Finally, the reserve funds that have helped support the Program will be exhausted in fiscal year 2005, requiring the Legislature to adopt a different funding structure for the Program.
Food Safety Programs in Kansas: Evaluating Possible Costs and Efficiencies of Combining Them
Primary responsibility for ensuring food safety in Kansas is divided between the Departments of Agriculture (in the meat and poultry, dairy, and egg inspection programs) and Health and Environment (in the food protection program); together, they spend about $3.2 million for inspection staff. This system is inefficient in some ways, because inspectors from more than one agency or program inspect the same businesses, some businesses are inspected more frequently than they need to be, and similar businesses are regulated inconsistently. In addition, coordination can be improved in situations where the agencies' regulatory authority overlaps. Combining food safety inspection programs could make it more likely similar food businesses and processes would be regulated consistently and that communications would improve. We estimate Kansas can generate about $680,000 in annual savings and improve food safety if certain inspections are combined and if inspections are changed to a risk-based approach. In addition to restructuring the routine food safety inspection system, Kansas needs to continue taking steps to become prepared for intentional threats to food safety.
Meat Processing Plants: Determining What Factors May Have Contributed to a Decline in the Number of Small Plants and What Impact That Has Had on the State’s Economy
The number of state-inspected meat plants in Kansas dropped from 151 in 1996 to 88 in September 2002, a decline of 63 plants. Of those 63 plants, 44 went out of business and the rest generally switched to federally inspected or custom-exempt plants. Nearly all other states with state inspection programs saw declines in the number of plants. Many plant owners in Kansas who'd gone out of business cited the lack of profitability and changes they'd have to make to meet federal regulations as the primary causes. The economic impact of these closings would largely be felt only in the small, rural communities, not on a Statewide basis. Finally, while Kansas' efforts to help small meat processors stay in business appear to be similar to those of other states, current plant owners said being able to participate in interstate commerce would help them most.To avoid duplicating the effort of an ongoing federal review by USDA Food Safety Inspection officials, we limited the work we did to assess adequacy of staffing levels, training, and consistency of inspections. Our audit and the results of the federal review (expected by early Spring 2003) should be read in conjunction to get a complete picture of the inspection program's performance. Based on our limited work, Kansas' inspection staff levels don't appear to be out of line when compared to other states. Most inspection staff think they've received adequate training in how to recognize problems in plants, although many plant owners and some inspectors don't think regulations and policies are applied consistently across the State. Inspectors also cited lack of consistency with enforcement efforts across the State.
Animal Breeders and Sellers in Kansas: Determining Whether Improvements Have Been Made In the Regulation of This Industry
Both Kansas breeders and those who buy their animals agree that conditions in the animal breeding industry have improved significantly since 1990. Those improvements can be attributed in large part to efforts the Animal Health Department has undertaken, such as adopting comprehensive standards and regulations, implementing inspection schedules and procedures, and improving the staffing levels for the Program. However, several improvements such as a standard inspection manual, adherence to the inspection schedules, a uniform system for classifying violations, and a standardized system of sanctions still are needed to ensure the Program operates efficiently and effectively. Also, the Legislature needs to consider options for recouping costs associated with caring for animals that are seized by the Department. Two options we identified were requiring animal owners to post a cash bond when animals are seized, or establishing a fund financed by animal breeders that could be used to cover these costs.
Department of Agriculture: Reviewing the Water Structures Program
Timeliness was a problem with nearly 60% of water structure permits and 60% of safety inspections of hazardous dams. In addition, all complaints about water structures we reviewed either weren't responded to at all, or took far too long to process. These problems were brought about by a number of factors, including high staff turnover, a lack of accurate and complete information needed to manage the Program, and poor management oversight of the Program. Examples of poor management included incomplete checklists for reviewing permit applications, no schedules for dam inspections, and poor follow-up procedures to ensure that problems were corrected. In addition, Kansas' water structures program was responsible for nearly 3 times as many dams as any of the surrounding states–in large part because Kansas' statutory definition of a dam is more broad. Issues were raised about whether water structures were being built in Kansas without permits, and whether such unpermitted bridges were contributing to localized flooding in Sedgwick county. We identified at least 34 water structures in 11 counties that were built without permits in the past 3 years. Recent flooding in Sedgwick County probably wouldn't have been avoided even if permits had been obtained. Another issue concerns whether Program regulations required a sufficient examination to assess the impact a new bridge might have on downstream property owners. This could be a significant issue because the Kansas Supreme Court has held at least 1 county liable for downstream damage caused by a bridge it replaced.
Department of Agriculture: A K-GOAL Audit of the Kansas Pesticide and Fertilizer Program
Most Kansas laws and regulations for pesticides and fertilizers are in line with those in Iowa, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. Kansas has 4 requirements these other states don't have: government agencies that apply restricted-use pesticides to the property of others must be registered, certified pesticide applicators must be at least 18 years old, mobile fertilizer containers must be made from the same materials and have the same equipment as stationary containers, and people who violate chemigation laws must cease chemigation immediately. However, Kansas doesn't require some types of safety equipment for anhydrous ammonia facilities that are required in Iowa and Nebraska. It also doesn't require signs on fields that are being chemigated with restricted-use pesticides or that chemigation equipment be inspected before initial use, as Nebraska does. Most fees Kansas charges are similar to those in the other states. Kansas isn't consistently more lenient or more harsh than other states in its criminal or civil penalties. However, officials told us that having civil penalties for violations of fertilizer law would help them enforce that law.
Assessing Whether State Regulation of Meat Processing Plants is More Stringent and Costly than Federal Regulations Require
New federal regulations adopted in July 1996 are less stringent on meat and poultry plant operators than the draft regulations initially proposed in 1995, and appeared to take small plants’ concerns into account. These new regulations, which the Department of Agriculture incorporated by reference into the Kansas Administrative Regulations, required plant owners to implement sanitary operating procedures and testing requirements by September 1997, and will require them to develop food safety systems by January 2000. A number of factors contributed to the anxiety and uncertainty about these new requirements, including inaccurate and conflicting information about the impact of those new requirements on Kansas’ small plants, uncertainty about implementation dates, and meat inspectors’ inability to answer plant owners’ basic questions about some of the new requirements. It’s still difficult to know how these new requirements will affect Kansas’ small meat plants. Plant owners will incur some additional costs, and some may choose to go out of business, but the nature and number of such changes is likely to be less significant than the Legislature initially was led to believe. Finally, most plant owners we surveyed said they generally were satisfied with the fairness of their inspectors, but some expressed concerns about inspections being inconsistent across State regions or between inspectors.
Compliance and Control Audit: Department of Agriculture
The Department of Agriculture’s Weights and Measures Program hasn’t been effective at ensuring the accuracy of the State’s measuring devices. The Department’s own recent tests found a significant number of inaccurate devices. With literally billions of dollars worth of products sold every year using these devices, the economic impact of such inaccuracies can be significant. Factors that have contributed include inadequate oversight by the Department of private companies doing inspections, and lack of sufficient enforcement actions when the Department found problems. In the past, some Department officials overstated the effectiveness of the Program and the extent of its regulatory activities. That could have helped hide the problems that existed, and contributed to their continuation. In a related area, the Department has done very limited testing for octane levels, which probably is the most financially significant risk area of gasoline quality. Further, the Department hasn’t always responded effectively to address problems it found in this area--either by enforcement action or by expanding its regulatory activities in this area. Based on current gasoline prices, the report notes that a gas station owner might collect an extra $17,000 a year from just one pump by selling regular grade gasoline at premium gasoline prices.
Compliance and Control Audit: Selected Agriculture Agencies
Although State law gives the agencies shared responsibility for three water-related programs, we found no significant duplication of effort. In a few areas where the agencies’ activities overlap, they have entered into agreements to help minimize the possibility of duplication. Both agencies have been working on issues related to the Republican River. The Division of Water Resources is focusing on water use in Nebraska to determine whether Nebraska has violated it compact with Kansas. The Water Office is assessing how lowered streamflows on the Republican River may affect water levels in Milford Reservoir. Our contacts with 12 other states showed that Kansas had a more decentralized organizational structure for regulating water and Kansas was the only state where the water permitting process is placed within an agricultural agency.
Reviewing the Department of Revenue’s Enforcement of Kansas Motor Fuels Tax
The Department of Revenue’s procedures do not ensure that all motor fuels taxes due the State are paid. The Department also is not enforcing statutory reporting requirements for transporters of motor fuels, and cannot uncover fraud with the information and reports currently received from taxpayers and other involved parties. Staff resources committed to auditing and investigating compliance with motor fuels tax laws are not adequate to meet the statutory mandates placed on the department. The Highway Patrol and the Board of Agriculture provide periodic assistance in enforcing motor fuels tax laws, but these resources are not available to the Department on a consistent basis. The Department could improve its tax collection procedures by adopting some of the methods used by the federal government or other states.
Reviewing the Division of Water Resources Process For Approving Water Permits (100-hour audit)
The audit showed that over the past five years, the backlog of unprocessed applications for new water permits has tripled, and the average time taken to approve permits has doubled. The reasons for growth of the backlog included an unusually high number of permit applications received in 1989, and a sharp drop in the number of applications resolved in 1992. Until very recently, the Division had not placed a high priority on reducing the backlog of new water permit applications. In February 1993, the Division created a temporary task force of 11 existing employees to work on the backlog of applications for new water permits. In addition, the Governor has recommended transferring two positions to the Division of Water Resources to help reduce the backlog of applications in fiscal year 1994. Whether or not the Division’s staff is increased, the Division needs to improve the information available to actively manage its review and approval of water permits.
Examining Selected Activities of the Board of Agriculture’s Marketing Division (100-hour audit)
No specific statute authorizes the Division to conduct international marketing, but such activities are not prohibited under the broad authority given the Division. The Division’s travel expenditures generally conformed to State travel regulations, and travel appeared to be done in a reasonable manner. Hospitality expenses also generally conformed to State policies, and given the type of work the Division does, none of these expenditures appeared to be inappropriate. The Division estimates that since the beginning of fiscal year 1990, its international marketing activities have benefited Kansas companies and producers by a total of $14.7 million or about 67 times the amount the Division spent on international marketing. But the Division has not systematically documented those benefits, and we were unable to verify all the amounts claimed as benefits.
Compliance and Control Audit: Selected Agriculture Agencies
Under its contract with the Board of Agriculture, Rural Assistance Corporation billed the Board for the cost of providing a Statewide mediation service for Kansas farmers and ranchers. Of the $45,233 in billings reviewed during this audit, $4,972 was unallowable under the contract, and an additional $8,777 was questionable. If the Board had more clearly addressed allowability of costs in the contract and had exercised better oversight of the contract, some of the problem areas noted could have been either prevented or discovered earlier in the contract period.
Noxious Weeds Law: A Review of Counties’ Enforcement Efforts
The Board of Agriculture has not taken an active role in ensuring adequate enforcement, and in many cases the counties are not fully enforcing or complying with the law. Revisions to both the law and the existing program could enhance enforcement, but most options have associated costs for the State.
More than half the 131 advisory bodies discussed in this report were created by agency heads within the last five years. These groups spent $772,000 in fiscal year 1985. Nearly 90 percent of this amount was incurred by just 14 groups. However, all but one of these groups are required by State or federal law.
State Operated Laboratories Preliminary Assessment
Due to concerns that a number of the laboratories in the state are not operating to full capacity there is to be a review of the operations and fee schedules of state operated laboratories. Major state laboratories were identified from statutory and budget research prior audits, Budget Division, Legislative Research and other pertinent sources, including telephone interviews. The audit of the laboratories will follow the patterns of the audit of state operated pharmacies and drug rooms. This audit excluded such labs as those at state colleges and universities and labs operated by hospitals which serve the single institution’s needs.