Many of the regulatory activities relating to child care in the State aren’t being adequately carried out by the local health departments and private contractors to whom the work has been delegated by the Department. Inadequate staffing and training apparently have contributed to these problems. At the State level, backlogged information within the Department is causing significant delays in getting criminal background checks for staff in larger facilities. The Department’s enforcement efforts haven’t been adequate to ensure that children are sufficiently protected once regulatory violations have been identified. The Departments of Social and Rehabilitation Services and Health and Environment seem to be working together to meet possible demands placed on the State’s child care system because of welfare reform. However, the Department of Health and Environment (as well as local health departments) may not be positioned to effectively handle any additional work load resulting from welfare reform because of staffing inadequacies. Current child care openings across the State may be adequate to meet the estimated 2,700 additional welfare children who could need child care over the next three years, but those slots may not be available in the right places, or for the types of children who need care.
Reviewing the Use of Job Service Moneys in Several Service Delivery Areas in Kansas
From 1993 - 1996, Heartland Works (in Service Delivery Area II--northeast Kansas) produced the second best results of the five service delivery areas in Kansas, but its performance slipped to fourth place in 1997. Heartland also operated Service Delivery Area III (Kansas City) during fiscal year 1996, but it didn’t improve that Area’s performance. Two independent audits of Heartland confirmed problems with some of Heartland’s practices. The audits initially questioned about $440,000 of Heartland’s expenditures. As of August 1, 1997, only about $25,000 of those costs were still in question. The Department acted well within its authority in deciding not to renew Heartland’s contract to administer Service Delivery Area III for fiscal year 1997, but the Department didn’t manage the release of information contained in the first audit very well. By discussing matters involving Heartland in an executive session, Area III’s private industry council may have violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act. In fiscal year 1997, the Department spent a greater percentage of its Wagner-Peyser moneys for job service centers on “non-field” operations than it had in any of the three previous years, but the Wagner-Peyser Act doesn’t limit the amount that can be spent for administrative costs. Kansas’ spending for non-field costs isn’t out-of-line with amounts spent by three other states that provided information.
Compliance and Control Audit: Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks
Compared with other motor pools we contacted, the Central Motor Pool appears to be operating fairly efficiently. However, the Motor Pool may have more vehicles in its “dispatch” pool than needed, and permanently assigning more of them to State agencies would be cost-effective. The Motor Pool’s costs are lower than those of other public- and private-sector motor pools we contacted, but the State might be able to reduce those costs even further by selling its retired motor pool cars competitively, and reducing the amount of gasoline bought at full market price. In addition, the use of more current technology could help the Motor Pool better track its maintenance needs and costs. Finally, if there’s interest in getting the State out of the vehicle fleet-management business, allowing State agencies with “permanently assigned” Motor Pool vehicles to buy those vehicles directly, and allowing employees who need cars for short-term trips to use their own cars or rent cars may be a cost-effective alternative. However, a more in-depth study would be needed to identify other costs or savings that should be considered before any decisions were made in this area.
Reviewing Selected Actions by the Mid-Kansas Community Action Program (Mid-Kansas CAP) in El Dorado (100-hour audit)
Management at Mid-Kansas Community Action Program has terminated several employees over the past two years without giving them proper notification and without documenting the reasons why. Some employees who were fired had a documented history of good work performance. Employee grievance procedures are being misused by both employees and management to document petty bickering and engage in retaliation against one another. Employees also have been reprimanded without proper notification, and weren’t given a chance to correct performance problems. In addition, the agency doesn’t have procedures in place to prevent abuse of time and mileage reimbursements. Finally, we concur with a September 1997 monitoring report by the Department of Commerce and Housing, which concluded Mid-Kansas CAP’s Board has assumed a very limited role in setting policy for the agency.
Reviewing the Attorney General’s Expenditures for Water Rights Litigation and Procedures for Selecting Attorneys
About $4.5 million of the $12 million the Attorney General’s Office has spent on water rights litigation since 1984 has been paid to outside attorneys, and most of the remainder has been paid to various experts such as hydrologists and engineers. Not included in the costs are hundreds of thousands of dollars for salaries of State employees who worked on the lawsuit. In several recent years, the Governor and the Legislature chose to partially fund the costs of the lawsuit through supplemental appropriations because of the difficulty in predicting the costs during the regular budgetary cycle. Recent increases in the Attorney General’s budget haven’t been caused by the lawsuit. Since taking office, the Attorney General has awarded contracts to 55 outside attorneys or firms to perform legal work on the State’s behalf. Most of those contracts were awarded because conflicts of interest prevented the Attorney General’s staff from handling the case, and most of those attorneys received a standard fixed fee of $75-$85 per hour. New billing guidelines adopted by the Attorney General should help control legal costs. The Office has no formal procedures for awarding contracts to outside attorneys, but we didn’t find any violation of the State’s conflict of interest laws in its awarding of contracts. Although many contracts were awarded to former associates and campaign contributors, others were awarded to firms who didn’t make campaign contributions. Because hiring former associates or campaign contributors can create an appearance of favoritism, the Attorney General’s Office would benefit from a more formal process that demonstrates that all interested and qualified firms were considered for legal work.
Compliance and Control Audit: Kansas Corporation Commission
After several years of increase, the number of parole violators being returned to prison declined during fiscal years 1995 and 1996 before beginning to increase in fiscal year 1997. About 90% of the increase in the number of parole violators being returned to prison in fiscal year 1997 can be attributed to slightly higher revocation rates, and most of the remaining increase is due to having more people on parole. It didn’t appear to us that parole violators were being returned to prison for less-serious reasons during fiscal year 1997. More than half the parole violators in the sample we reviewed were returned to prison only after the Department had imposed special conditions or sanctions for previous violations of their parole. We didn’t see any noteworthy differences between this group and the other cases in our sample where no sanctions were imposed before parole was revoked. Both groups had violated three or more conditions of their parole at the time they were returned to prison. Another group of parole violators in our sample committed violations such as possessing a weapon, testing positive for PCP, or evading or eluding an officer, which required the parole officer to automatically recommend parole revocation. Community corrections was used as an alternative sanction in more than one-fourth of the cases we reviewed. However, services available from community corrections were limited and may not have been a suitable alternative when a return to prison was the only thing that would stop someone from violating the conditions of his or her parole.
Reviewing the Progress of the Department of Revenue’s Project 2000
The audit found that the Department of Revenue generally has established good management practices for carrying out Project 2000. We raised a concern about the lack of a full-time project director. We also found two areas where the Department’s practices could work more effectively--testing of products and communication within the Project. Problems in both these areas contributed to the Department’s long delays in getting out tax refund checks while implementing the first major computer system of the Project. American Management Systems will be paid up to $49.9 million for their work on the Project, and the Department expects to take in a total of $225 million by 2002 in additional revenues as a result of the Project. We found that the Department has established a reasonable method for determining the amount of additional tax revenue it’s receiving because of Project 2000. To fund the Project, AMS and the Department developed several initiatives that do such things as improve the productivity of the Department’s existing collections system, and identify people who should’ve paid taxes but hadn’t done so. Through May 1997, these initiatives had resulted in $17.6 million in increased collections. AMS has until 2002 to collect its full fee. We found that the Department was taking reasonable steps to ensure that the amount of additional taxes collected and credited to the Project were accurate.
We concluded the Department had complied with 11 of the 78 requirements reviewed during this sixth monitoring period, and hadn’t complied with 60. For the remaining 7 requirements, we couldn’t assess the Department’s compliance because the parties involved in the settlement agreement were still negotiating issues related to these requirements, or the Department’s Monitoring Unit hadn’t completed its work. This period, the Department conceded noncompliance with all the requirements related to determining the safety and status of children who reportedly have been abused or neglected (Case Review 1), and to appropriately managing the cases of children in its custody (Case Review 2). The Department was in compliance with most of the requirements related to adoption (Case Review 3), but it continues to be out of compliance with many requirements related to maintaining information and systems that contribute to the good management of the foster care system. A follow-up on all these areas will be done in the seventh monitoring period.
Reviewing the Regulatory Activities of the Board of Cosmetology
The Board of Cosmetology waited for about a year before it notified cosmetologists about continuing education requirements passed in 1995, and then didn’t enforce the requirements of law. The Board’s Executive Director allowed some facilities to open that hadn’t met requirements, directed staff to falsify some test documents, and licensed people who hadn’t passed exams. Facilities weren’t inspected as often as required, violations weren’t effectively addressed, and inspection forms don’t reflect current regulations. In addition, the Board hadn’t taken action any on numerous complaints it received in 1996. We also found weak controls over receipts and expenditures that increase the risk of loss or theft of moneys. The Board had an unauthorized bank account, inspectors were collecting payments and depositing them into their own checking accounts before forwarding them to the Board, and checks were being held in the Board’s office for as long as two months. Inappropriate uses of Board moneys or other resources included paying the airfare of a vendor who was trying to sell services to the Board, and payment of the Executive Director’s airfare, personal telephone calls, and salary while she was working for another employer. Finally, we found no evidence of wrongdoing in the way the contract to track continuing education for cosmetologists was awarded.
Reviewing the Kansas Court System’s Allocation of Staff Resources To the District Courts
Statutes that specify the location of each judge prevent the Supreme Court from permanently reallocating existing judgeships to equalize workloads, although the Court does make temporary reassignments of judges. Because of statutory limitations, the wide variance in judicial caseloads across the State has changed little since court unification in 1977. In 1996, judges in some districts had caseloads of less than 400, while judges in other districts had caseloads ranging from 1,300 to 2,300. Court officials typically try to assign new staff to the district courts with the greatest need. However, since 1987, the number of judgeships has increased by only 4%, from 216 to 225, while the number of cases filed has increased by 40%. In this same period, non judicial staff increased by 7%. In spite of significant improvements in their ability to process cases, the district courts seem to be falling behind in their work, and increased caseloads have caused services to be cut back in some offices of the clerk of the district court. The audit identifies numerous changes that could help the courts operate more efficiently, but many of these would take additional financial resources or statutory changes.
Overall, compliance with the tax increment laws in Kansas appears to be fairly high. We noted, however, that for two projects in Kansas City, officials hadn’t established separate funds to account for the incremental tax revenue, as the law requires. In addition, Kansas City didn’t appear to have a very good system to account for the amount of development costs the City incurred for one project. We also noted some cities are using tax increment financing in ways the Legislature initially might not have anticipated, such as moving an existing business from one enterprise zone to another or developing a city park within a redevelopment district. Finally, with the exception of environmental tax increment districts, the use of tax increment financing should have little impact on school district revenues and State aid payments.
Reviewing State Agencies’ Use of Cost Savings From the Kansas Quality Program (100-hour audit)
The Legislature first enacted the Kansas Quality Program in 1994, which allowed participating agencies to give employees cash and non-cash awards for improving State operations through specific quality initiatives. A second program was started the following year, which allowed agencies participating in the first program to keep half the money they were appropriated but didn’t spend. Agencies have retained about $5.3 million that they didn’t spend in fiscal years 1995 and 1996. Most of their purchases with those moneys have been for capital outlay items, such as computers or parole office automation technology. In fiscal year 1997 five agencies spent $38,000 for employee bonuses. Most of the expenditures we reviewed were appropriate; however, bonuses paid by two agencies didn’t meet the program requirements, and one of those agencies exceeded the $1,000 limit established by the Legislature. The Governor proposes expanding the program to all agencies and eliminating any tie to the original Kansas Quality Program. Positive aspects to this proposal include increased spending flexibility for agencies and less incentive to spend all moneys at year-end. Examples of risks include possible overbudgeting, the potential for cutting back on needed services to generate savings, and less up-front accountability for expenditures.
Reviewing Funding of Gaming-Related Background Investigations Conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (100-hour audit)
For fiscal years 1996 and 1997 (through March 26), lottery and racing moneys were used to pay an estimated $600,000 in costs for activities of the Bureau’s Gaming Unit related to tribal gaming. (Starting the day after we began the audit and until the field work was finished, a total of $310,000 in tribal moneys had been paid to the Bureau, but it had reimbursed its lottery and racing fund account for only a portion of that amount.) By not billing the tribal casinos up-front or on a periodic basis, the Bureau essentially guarantees that racing and lottery moneys will be used to fund tribal gaming costs for a portion of the year. In addition, the Bureau isn’t billing at all for some of the costs associated with tribal casino work. Unless some significant changes are made in the way the State budgets for gaming-related activities, and in the way the Bureau figures its costs for each type of gaming, then the three types of gaming won’t be paying their fair share of these costs.
Assessing the Extent to Which License Applications and Renewals Are Delayed at the Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board (100-hour audit)
In fiscal year 1996, it took the Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board an average of 77-197 days to issue a license. Most of the delays were caused by applicants submitting incomplete applications, failing to show up for exams, not passing the exam, not complying with licensing requirements, and the like. We found five cases in which delays occurred because the Board’s staff didn’t notify applicants of the Board’s actions regarding their applications in a timely manner. Board staff indicated the Board’s review of several cases occurred during a very busy time, and these cases slipped through the cracks. We also found that the Board has taken several steps to speed up the licensing process including more frequent Board meetings and more frequent testing for social workers. Finally, it appears that the Board could speed up the licensing process if it had better computer capabilities.
Reviewing the Effectiveness of the Domestic Violence Laws in Kansas
A 1991 State law focuses on domestic violence as a crime, and requires law enforcement centers to report all incidents of domestic violence to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. For a variety of reasons, however, the Bureau’s statistics aren’t complete. Law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, and program directors reported that the number of domestic violence calls hasn’t changed since 1991. The number of arrests has risen since then, apparently because of the law’s mandatory arrest provision which has increased the courts’ involvement, and increased the likelihood that abusers will be referred to programs that might help them. People we spoke with pointed out that some judges aren’t adapting as well as others to the viewpoint that domestic violence is a crime, and suggested additional training to improve the situation. Program directors report that victims of domestic violence are faring better; however, because of the mandatory arrest requirement, some victims won’t call the police because they don’t want the offender arrested. People we talked with offered numerous recommendations and suggestions to help decrease or stop domestic violence in Kansas.
Reviewing the Department of Transportation’s Acquisition of Right-of-Way for Highway Projects
In general, the Department has followed a consistent process that meets legal requirements when it acquires property from landowners. The Department didn’t follow its standard process in acquiring right-of way for the South Lawrence Trafficway project. Land for this project was acquired by the Department’s Chief Counsel, instead of the Bureau of Right-of-Way. The Department didn’t always pay consistent prices for the properties it acquired; for about 31% of the properties we reviewed, the Department paid significantly more than the appraised value. When landowners received significantly more, generally it was because of condemnation awards or because the Department agreed the property was worth more than the appraised value. It is difficult to tell whether the Department might have paid some landowners too much, because of the tremendous amount of judgment involved in making such decisions. About half the landowners who responded to our survey said they were paid less than they expected to receive, while 95% of the Department staff who responded to our survey said they thought the Department paid a reasonable amount.
Reviewing the Methodology Used in Conducting & Analyzing the State’s Sales-Ratio Study
The methodology the Division uses in conducting the ratio study is reasonable. It generally is consistent with professional appraisal guidelines and standards, although the Division has adopted a more lenient standard for assessing the uniformity of residential sales. The Division is operating under a court order to ensure that real property appraisal in Kansas complies with the State Constitution. The court order requires a way of determining compliance that’s different from the Division’s normal methodology. As a result, it’s likely different counties will be found in compliance under each method. The Division’s policies for including and excluding properties from the ratio study closely follow professional standards. Division staff did a good job of following those policies, and of responding in an equitable manner to informal appeals filed by county appraisers.
Reviewing the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services’ Efforts to Privatize Government Services (100-hour audit)
State law allows agencies to deny contracts to bidders who have certain criminal convictions. However, federal and State laws and regulations generally only provide an agency with access to in-State conviction information. The Department hasn’t established any agency wide procedures for conducting criminal history checks on potential contractors. Although it took reasonable steps to learn about criminal convictions for three or four major contract areas we reviewed, additional steps could have been taken. We also noted that the Division of Purchases needs to issue guidance to agencies regarding what to do to check criminal histories.
Compliance and Control Audit: Kansas Arts Commission
Published: FEBRUARY, 1997
No abstract available.
Verifying Information Provided by the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services on its Compliance with the Terms of the Foster Care Lawsuit Settlement Agreement Monitoring Report #5
We concluded the Department had complied with only 8 of the 81 requirements reviewed during this fifth monitoring period, and hadn’t complied with 24. For the remaining 49 requirements, we couldn’t assess the Department’s compliance because the parties involved in the settlement agreement generally hadn’t resolved their ongoing disagreements about interpretations of the settlement language, or hadn’t decided how compliance should be measured. When we looked back at the Department’s compliance rate over time, we noted it has now complied with most administrative types of requirements, but the Department continues to be out of compliance with almost all requirements related to determining the safety and status of children who reportedly have been abused or neglected. It also continues to be out of compliance with almost all “foundational” requirements related to foster care placement and service needs, staffing, and information needs. Finally, because of the problems described earlier, we don’t yet know whether the Department has complied with the nearly 40 requirements relating to appropriately managing the cases of children in its custody. We’ll follow up on all these areas in the sixth monitoring period.
Reviewing Tax Increment Financing in Kansas, Part 1: An Inventory
There were 32 tax increment districts in Kansas, according to city officials. The majority of those districts, 25, were in the Kansas City or Wichita metropolitan areas. Preparing sites for private development and acquiring and demolishing blighted property are the activities most often undertaken by cities in tax increment districts. The audit includes a listing of all these districts, the projects being developed within them, and the developers’ and cities’ estimated costs for those projects.
Reviewing the Department of Health and Environment’s Efforts To Protect Water from Pollution Caused by Confined Livestock Feeding Operations
The Department’s actions haven’t been sufficient to minimize the risk of water pollution. The standards it adopted for the design and location of sewage lagoons are less stringent than comparison states in two key areas. Although the Department has adopted many good regulatory practices, its staff didn’t follow all those practices or other Department requirements in 93% of the 41 cases we reviewed. It often issued permits to facilities that didn’t meet all the requirements, let facilities operate for years with expired permits, didn’t perform the required inspections, and rarely followed up to make sure violations were corrected. It appears the Department needs additional staff to carry out all the activities it should be doing to adequately protect the State’s water. Finally, the Department’s regulatory authority generally is adequate, but regulation of dust and odors is difficult without some objective way to measure odors or to isolate the amount of dust caused by a certain source.
Reviewing the Effectiveness of the State’s Workplace Health and Safety Program
We couldn’t tell whether the Workplace Health and Safety Program was effective at reducing accidents because not enough time has passed since training was done to see a discernible difference in accident numbers. Nonetheless, agency officials told us the training their agencies got was useful and met their needs. The Program isn’t very effective at providing training to State employees for several reasons: training isn’t targeted to agencies with the greatest needs, agencies can decide not to participate in training, and the Program has only one professional staff. In addition, Program officials haven’t done some things required by State law, such as developing procedures for identifying and controlling workplace hazards. It appears that the Division of Personnel Services is using staff paid with Self-Insurance Fund money to do general work unrelated to accident prevention according to Program staff. However, Division officials disagree with some of Program staff’s estimates.