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.
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.
Compliance and Control Audit: Conservation Commission
The Conservation Commission has done a good job of awarding program moneys for the types of projects and in the areas of the State that were targeted as priorities in the State Water Plan. However, the ways in which the Annual Implementation Plan is developed and projects are approved may not ensure that compliance with Water Plan goals will always be as high in the future for Commission-funded programs. This is primarily because the people who are setting the priorities are different from the people who are deciding where the moneys actually are spent. In addition, no one at the State level systematically reviews program spending after the fact to see how well it addresses needs identified by the State Water Plan. We also found that, although the Commission collects some information about whether moneys being spent are effective at meeting Water Plan goals, part of that information may not be reliable. Finally, the Commission’s programs could be transferred to other State agencies and the Commission abolished, but there didn’t appear to be a compelling reason to do so, and the savings that could be achieved are unclear.
Department of Wildlife and Parks, Conservation Commission, Water Office - FY 1994