The State has implemented ARRA reporting requirements fairly well. Agencies generally have done a good job of filing their Section 1512 reports timely, and all agencies required to report have done so. All but two of 74 reports flagged by federal reviewers were satisfactorily resolved. The methodology agencies used to calculate jobs created and retained was consistent with federal guidance. However, two of the four programs we reviewed inaccurately calculated and reported the number of jobs created. We were able to reconcile expenditures listed on the Section 1512 report to the State’s accounting system for 16 of 18 programs we reviewed. However, the differences were relatively minor.
Reviewing Operations of the State Treasurer’s Office, Fiscal Year 2010
The Legislative Post Audit Act requires this audit of the State Treasurer’s Office. Allen, Gibbs & Houlik, L.C., an audit firm under contract with Legislative Post Audit, conducted this audit. The audit addresses 10 questions about selected financial-management responsibilities of the State Treasurer’s Office. The auditors found two deficiencies: some abandoned property had not been sold within the required period, and the wrong data sets were used to calculate the Highway Equalization Distribution amounts to the individual counties. The State Treasurer’s Office continues to address the abandoned property issue and has already implemented a corrective action plan for the Highway Equalization Distribution issue.
Reviewing the Operations of the Pooled Money Investment Board - FY 2010
The Legislative Post Audit Act requires this audit of the Pooled Money Investment. Allen, Gibbs & Houlik, L.C., an audit firm under contract with Legislative Post Audit, conducted this audit. The audit addresses five questions about selected financial-management responsibilities of the Pooled Money Investment Board, mainly those involving the Board's fiscal accountability for moneys. The auditors found no deficiencies.
The Kansas Lottery Act requires this triennial audit of the security of the Kansas Lottery. Delehanty Consulting LLC, under contract with Legislative Post Audit, conducted this audit. The audit addresses 14 different aspects of security at the Kansas Lottery. The auditors characterized the security of the Kansas Lottery as exceptional, but did identify a few areas where improvements are needed. The audit resulted in a public report that identifies areas with audit findings and, as provided for under the Kansas Open Records Act, a confidential report that provides detailed findings and recommendations.
Kansas Public Employees Retirement System: Financial Audit of Fiscal Year 2010
State law requires this financial-compliance audit of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. Cochran Head Vick & Co., P.A., a certified public accounting firm under contract with Legislative Post Audit. The audit found that the System fairly presented its financial statements, met applicable legal requirements, and had no significant deficiencies in its financial-management procedures.
Water-Related Agencies: Determining Whether the State Could Achieve Efficiencies and Reduce Costs by Combining the Operations of Its Water-Related Agencies
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.
Division of Purchases: Reviewing Issues Related To Its Acquisition of Goods and Services
We identified a number of areas where the Division of Purchases didn’t adequately document its actions during contract negotiations, increasing the risk for errors, noncompliance, and fraud. We also found two areas where the Division didn’t comply with statute or best practices by not requiring appropriate documents. Because of legislative concerns, we reviewed the negotiation process for a Statewide copier contract that was mistakenly awarded to the wrong vendor, primarily because the Division didn’t follow its usual process for awarding contracts. However, because of a compromise between the Division and the two vendors, this mistake likely didn’t cost the State much money. Finally, we identified at least $27 million in goods and services that the State purchased through multi-state consortiums in 2009, and estimate that the State paid $122,000 in consortium fees associated with those purchases. While Division appears to conduct some informal analysis to determine if these consortiums are in the best financial interest of the State, it is not systematic. However, for the consortium contracts the State currently uses, it appears that the consortium fees are less than the resources the Division would need to negotiate similar contracts on its own.
Prescription Drugs: Reviewing What the Kansas Health Policy Authority Is Doing To Control Prescription Drug Costs in the Programs It Oversees
The Health Policy Authority already has implemented several strategies to control prescription drug costs in the Medicaid program and the State Employee Health Plan. We identified five additional strategies for the Medicaid program that could save the Authority between $3.8 million and $4.6 million per year. These include joining a purchasing consortium, regulating mental health prescription drugs, reducing dispensing fees paid to pharmacists, implementing a more aggressive step therapy program, and increasing the maximum amount of certain drugs dispensed at one time. We identified four additional strategies for the Employee Health Plan that could save the State up to $3.0 million per year. These include reducing coverage on some or all prescriptions, increasing the maximum amount of certain drugs dispensed at one time, using a starter dose for new prescriptions, and limiting the number of prescriptions beneficiaries an receive each month.
State Universities: Reviewing Issues Related to Students’ Excess Credit Hours
We found one in six students attending Kansas’ six state universities had excess credit hours--hours beyond 115% of those required for their degree programs. However, excess credit hours represented only 1.5% of all credit hours those students attempted. We estimate the State wouldn’t save any money by reducing excess credit hours because the State’s funding for the universities isn’t tied to credit hours. Neither we nor the university officials could identify specific or significant university savings that could result from reducing excess credit hours. Officials from all six universities told us they have taken several actions that could curb excess credit hours. However, because the State doesn’t face the same kinds of capacity issues as other states face, and because the State likely wouldn’t realize significant savings, more aggressive actions to reduce excess credit hours aren’t warranted at this time.
K-12 Education: Voluntary Efficiency Audits of School Districts— A Summary Report of Seven School Districts
Published: SEPTEMBER, 2010
We conducted efficiency audits of seven school districts at the direction of the 2010 Commission. We found that none of the districts had a systematic process for managing efficiency. We identified a number of opportunities for districts to operate more efficiently, and the largest savings come from cutting teachers. All seven districts potentially could save money by changing their high school class schedules or course offerings and by using their buildings more efficiently. In addition, several districts could save money by making their food service programs more self-sufficient. Finally, we identified several other areas where districts could become more efficient and save money.
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.
K-12 Education: Efficiency Audit of the Concordia School District
The audit identified opportunities that would allow the Concordia school district to operate more efficiently and reduce costs—some of which would have to be weighed against the impact on the students and community. The most significant area for savings involves filling its high school classes closer to the capacity set by the district, which would eliminate the need for several class sections. If it also combined sections of classes with the lowest enrollments, it could save even more. In addition, the district has enough physical space to move its preschool from its current location into the district’s elementary school, which could result in savings. In order for this to happen, some grades would have to be moved from their current buildings. District officials said they are looking for new bus route planning software, and should do a cost-benefit analysis before making a purchase. Other areas of potential savings include offering fewer supplemental contracts, hiring a full-time staff member to reduce the need for custodial overtime, increasing the use of cash-back procurement cards, seeking competitive bids for fuel, workers compensation insurance, and vehicle maintenance, and limiting the number of district-owned cell phones Some of these options would result in cutting teacher positions. However, given the State’s economic condition, many districts already are facing cuts for existing staff. The audit recommendations would result in targeted cuts, which could lessen the impact on the district’s ability to provide high-quality instruction.
K-12 Education: Efficiency Audit of the Riley County School District
The audit identified several opportunities that would allow the Riley County school district to operate more efficiently and reduce costs—many of these opportunities would have to be weighed against the impact on the students and community. The most significant area for savings involves the potential for reducing the amount of funds transferred into the food program. One of the primary reasons for the deficit is the district doesn’t control meal portions. Others actions the district could take to reduce the need to subsidize this program include: setting lunch prices at levels that come closer to covering cost, charging for extra servings, and implementing a central kitchen. Another area for savings involves one-time revenues generated from moving the district’s central office into one of the district’s two school buildings and selling the office building. In addition, moving its high school from a block schedule to a more traditional schedule and filing classes closer to the capacity set by the district would eliminate the need for several class sections. Other areas of potential savings include reducing utility costs for district computers through the use of power-saving options, limiting payments for cell phones, offering fewer supplemental contracts, automating paper processes, increasing the use of cash-back procurement cards, and competitively shopping for fuel, vehicle maintenance, and propane. Some of these options would result in cutting teacher positions. However, given the State’s economic condition, many districts are facing cuts for existing staff. The audit recommendations would result in targeted cuts, which could lessen the impact on the district’s ability to provide high-quality instruction.
K-12 Education: Efficiency Audit of the Clifton-Clyde School District
The audit identified opportunities that would allow the Clifton-Clyde school district to operate more efficiently and reduce costs—many of these opportunities would have to be weighed against the impact on the students and community. The most significant area for savings involves reducing the number of course sections offered at the high school and filling courses closer to the capacity set by the district. Another option would be to discontinue teaching subject areas that have fewer than 35 students. In addition, the district could generate revenue by charging for breakfasts it currently provides at no cost to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students. Other areas of potential savings include hiring a part-time staff member to reduce overtime pay for custodial staff, closing outbuildings at the elementary and high schools, automating paper-driven processes, and using business procurement cards with a cash-back rate. Given the State’s economic condition, many districts already are facing cuts for existing staff. The audit recommendations would result in targeted cuts, which could lessen the impact on the district’s ability to provide high-quality instruction.
Fiscal Notes: Determining Whether the Process for Preparing Fiscal Estimates in Kansas Could Be Improved
Fiscal note estimates we reviewed often were significantly different from the actual fiscal effect, but for different reasons. For the eight fiscal notes we reviewed for bills that passed, the dollar estimates were off from relatively small amounts to nearly $15.3 million. Most differences we saw were because the Legislature, Governor, or agency significantly changed the scope or funding for the program or participation in the program was significantly different than projected . We also reviewed 56 fiscal notes and found they didn’t always meet statutory requirements and didn’t always meet best practices in terms of including assumptions, providing details on the methodology used, and estimating all costs and revenues. Five other states we contacted also operate under short timeframes; however, they tend to have standardized forms for preparing fiscal note estimates, update their estimates as bills progress, solicit input from more entities when generating estimates, and include more information in fiscal notes. Like Kansas, other states generally don’t include estimates of economic benefits in fiscal notes related to economic development bills. Although economic models are available, they often are costly, take too much time to meet deadlines, and depend on the assumptions analysts use and data available.
K-12 Education: Reviewing Issues Related to the Costs of the Health Care Benefits Provided by School Districts (school audit)
Employers join health insurance pools in order to obtain lower and more predictable premiums. Currently there are five such pools available to school districts, including the State Employee Health Plan. We looked but identified only one district that could potentially save money by joining the State plan, primarily because the plan’s minimum employer contribution requirement is more than most districts currently pay, and because its annual deductible is lower. Because many districts are interested in forming a new Statewide pool of school district employees, we built estimates of what that pool might look like and what it might cost to insure. We looked at a sample of 22 school districts and two service centers and, based on our analysis, it didn’t appear that most of them would benefit from joining a Statewide pool, either because they wouldn’t save money, or because more out-of-pocket costs would be shifted onto their employees. Finally, if districts were to form a new pool, it would be difficult to sustain without sufficient safeguards, such as screening out districts with less healthy employees, instituting minimum employee participation requirements, or requiring higher employer contributions toward health insurance premiums.
K-12 Education: Efficiency Audit of the Renwick School District
We identified opportunities that would allow the Renwick school district to operate more efficiently and reduce costs--many of these opportunities would have to be weighed against the impact on the students and community. The most significant area for savings involves the potential for reducing the number of elementary schools from four to three, and the number of high schools from two to one. In addition, moving its high schools from a block schedule to a more traditional schedule and filing classes closer to the capacity set by the district would eliminate the need for several class sections. That would require teachers to teach one more class each year, but still would give them slightly more planning time each day than the district is obligated to provide. Other areas of potential savings include offering fewer supplemental contracts, re-evaluating the policy of buying back unused leave, seeking competitive bids for fuel, and reducing the number of bus activity routes. Some of these options would result in cutting teacher positions. However, given the State’s economic condition, many districts already are facing cuts for existing staff. Our suggestions would result in targeted cuts, which could lessen the impact on the district’s ability to provide high-quality instruction.
K-12 Education: Efficiency Audit of the Winfield School District
We identified several opportunities that would allow the Winfield school district to operate more efficiently and reduce costs--many of these opportunities would have to be weighed against the impact on the students and community. The most significant area for savings involves the potential for reducing the elementary schools from four to three, and closing the intermediate school. In addition, moving its high school from a block schedule to a more traditional schedule and filing classes closer to the capacity set by the district would eliminate the need for several class sections. That would require teachers to teach one more class each week and they would have less planning time each day. Other areas of potential savings include reducing utility costs for its central office, reducing student support staff to bring the staffing numbers more in line with peers, toughening health insurance eligibility requirements, reducing vehicle allowances and cell phone stipends, purchasing property and liability insurance competitively , seeking competitive bids for vehicle fuel, and improving the efficiency of its food service program. Some of these options would result in cutting teacher positions. However, given the State’s economic condition, many districts are facing cuts for existing staff. Our suggestions would result in targeted cuts, which could lessen the impact on the district’s ability to provide high-quality instruction.
Sole-Source Contracts: Determining Whether Sole Sourcing Is Being Used When Other Vendors Could Supply the Goods or Services
Division of Purchases’ records show that, over the last five calendar years, it has authorized more than $900 million in sole-source purchases. However, we have reservations about the accuracy of the Division’s sole-source reports. In all, 14 of 18 non-emergency sole-source purchases we reviewed appeared to be reasonable, but two were not and two were questionable because of lack of documentation. The Division authorized all 12 emergency sole-source purchases we reviewed appropriately, but in three instances the agency created problems. The Division of Purchases doesn’t follow some best practices related to sole-source purchases, including having written policies and procedures. The Division Director reported only two sole-source purchases greater than $100,000 have been challenged in the last eight years. We reviewed both challenges and found they appeared to be reasonable as sole-source purchases.
Medicaid: Determining Whether Kansas Could Save Money by Expanding the Use of Managed Care in the Kansas Medicaid Program
Medicaid costs potentially can be reduced by better managing client care and reducing the use of avoidable high-cost services, such as emergency room visits. Kansas and other states have piloted or implemented a number of initiatives aimed at better managing care for high-cost clients, both to improve services to these clients and to reduce costs. Those initiatives often incorporate cost-savings strategies such as improved care coordination, payment incentives, and data management techniques. However, few states, including Kansas, have estimated the dollar savings or effects of these efforts. As a result, it’s difficult to know if these initiatives are cost effective, or to estimate what potential cost savings might be possible by further applying these strategies to larger numbers of high-cost clients in Kansas. Regardless, many states we contacted have implemented these strategies on a statewide scale, despite inconclusive evidence that they contain or reduce costs. That’s likely because the ways in which managed-care systems are supposed to save money are logically intuitive, even if unproven. Kansas has several options for identifying and pursuing cost-savings strategies, including analyses of Statewide medical data and increased use of pilot projects.
State of Kansas: OMB Circular A-133 Audit of Fiscal Year 2009
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…” The audit was conducted by the joint venture of Allen, Gibbs & Houlik, L.C. and Berberich Trahan & Co., P.A. under contract with Legislative Post Audit. The results of the Statewide audit are presented in two parts. The first part was the report on the Division of Accounts and Reports CAFR for fiscal year 2009.
This second part, the Report on Federal Awards in Accordance with OMB Circular A-133, reports on compliance with laws and regulations and provisions of contracts and grant agreements. Except for requirements regarding reporting applicable to the Disaster Grants – Public Assistance Program, the State complied, in all material respects, with the requirements applicable to each of the federal programs audited. Fourteen findings are reported, nine of which are repeated from prior years (one material weakness, eight significant deficiencies, and five control deficiencies).
Kansas Tax Revenues, Part III: Reviewing Property Tax Exemptions
A significant amount of real and personal property currently is exempted from taxation--including all property used for governmental and educational purposes, and certain business machinery and equipment -- but there is almost no data on how much the State and local governments are losing in tax revenues from these exemptions. We identified a number of exemptions the Legislature may want to re-evaluate, including six exemptions that have been broadened beyond what the Constitution requires regarding household goods, church parsonages, non-profit housing organizations, and certain buildings owned by private non-profit universities or colleges. In addition, four exemptions relating to farm structures, certain aircraft, and low-production oil wells could result in unequal treatment for similar types of taxpayers. Finally, local governments have lost a significant amount of property tax revenues from four machinery and equipment exemptions.
State of Kansas: Financial Audit of Fiscal Year 2009
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…” The audit was conducted by the joint venture of Allen, Gibbs & Houlik, L.C. and Berberich Trahan & Co., P.A. under contract with Legislative Post Audit. The results of the state-wide audit are presented in two parts. This first part is the report on the Division of Accounts and Reports CAFR for fiscal year 2009. The State’s financial condition for fiscal year 2009, as shown in the CAFR, is presented fairly and in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles. The auditors reported one significant deficiency in internal control over financial reporting. The current accounting system was designed to provide information primarily related to budget compliance and, therefore, generally omits non-cash assets and liabilities.
The second part, the Report on Federal Awards in Accordance with OMB Circular A-133, will be issued subsequently.
Reviewing How the Recent Economic Downturn Has Affected the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System’s Funding Situation
State law calls for a performance audit of the Retirement System once every three years. The Executive Director requested that this audit address the impact of the downturn on KPERS. This audit was conducted by the joint venture of Allen Gibbs & Houlik and Berberich Trahan & Co., under contract with the Legislative Division of Post Audit. In the year’s time between the end of December 2007 and 2008, the KPERS group’s unfunded actuarial liability grew by $2.4 billion, from $5.3 billion to $7.6 billion (45%). Although the State and local subgroups’ unfunded liability grew at a faster rate, the school subgroup’s unfunded liability was about five times larger than each of the two other subgroups. On an actuarial basis, KPERS’ assets compared to its liabilities dropped from 68.6% to 56.9%. Investment losses were the main cause. The actual investment experience over the next four years may be able to offset some of the deferred loss if the experience is favorable. As calculated by the actuary, the level of contributions required to fully fund the KPERS group through 2033 would increase by 2% to 4% for each subgroup. However, State law limits increases in employer contribution rates to no more than 0.6% over the previous year’s rate. The auditors compared KPERS’ State and school subgroups combined to similar plans in five other states, some of which are in separate retirement plans. As a result, Kansas’ single plan (for the State and school subgroups only) was compared with 10 other plans in those five states. The auditors’ comparisons showed that KPERS ranked near the middle on employer contribution rates, near the bottom on the actuarial funding ratio, and in the bottom half on the amount of unfunded actuarial liability. However, if the five states’ plans are combined and compared with Kansas, Kansas’ unfunded actuarial liability is less than three of those five states. The report also summarizes what some other states have done in response to the recession.
Kansas Tax Revenues, Part I: Reviewing Tax Credits
Kansas currently has 47 tax credits and 2 refund programs. Only 34 of the tax credits had been in existence long enough for us to evaluate. After applying tax policy considerations and reviewing available data, we identified 8 tax credits the Legislature may want to consider repealing, primarily because minimal or declining use over time suggests they aren’t fulfilling their purposes. One refund program and 6 other credits could be considered for modification because they are more generous than similar credits or programs in some neighboring states. Finally, we identified 12 tax credits the Legislature may want to reconsider to ensure they provide the right balance between the Legislature’s public policy goals and State funding needs. Three of Kansas’ four transferable tax credits--Angel Investor, Community Service Contribution, and Deferred Maintenance--are a cost-effective way of generating money from the State’s perspective because all the money the State gives up in forgone tax revenue goes to the project or activity the State is subsidizing. The Historic Preservation Tax Credit isn’t a cost-effective way to generate money from the State’s perspective because, on average for the credits that have been sold to raise money for projects, only 85 cents went to the project for every dollar the State gave up. Since its inception, $312 million worth of projects have been approved for Historic Preservation Tax Credits. About $44.2 million of resulting tax credits actually had been claimed so far through 2008. If all the credits related to the approved projects are issued and claimed, the amount of forgone tax revenue could be as high as $78 million. This credit is costing much more than the initial estimate of $1 million a year.
Kansas Tax Revenues, Part II: Reviewing Sales Tax Exemptions
Kansas currently has 99 sales tax exemptions that cost the State an estimated $4.2 billion in fiscal year 2009. Sales tax exemptions in several areas provide unequal treatment for similar types of taxpayers, including $2.2 million in exemptions granted to 39 specifically named organizations. Kansas also exempts some non-profit organizations from paying sales taxes, but not their for-profit counterparts. Such exemptions are not in line with good tax policy principles. The Legislature hasn’t formally adopted a public policy goal regarding the types of organizations, services, or activities it wants to exempt from sales tax.In all, 13 sales tax exemptions accounted for $4.1 billion (96%) of the total estimate of revenues forgone in 2009. Six of those exemptions accounting for $3.4 billion, relate primarily to taxing goods at the final point of sale, and not taxing government entities. Seven exemptions totaling almost $700 million were for machinery and equipment, education/youth activities, labor services utilities, and prescription drugs. Although they significantly erode the State and local tax base, there are other significant considerations for having them. Finally, in recent years, the Legislature has broadened many sales tax exemptions to allow purchases on behalf of or sales by certain entities. We noted several issues with these exemptions.
K-12 Education: Reviewing the Potential for Cost Savings From Reorganization of Kansas School Districts
We developed two scenarios to illustrate the financial impact of restructuring and reducing school districts from the current number of 293—one that would leave a total of 266 districts, and another that would leave a total of 152 districts. Under the first scenario, we estimated that the affected districts’ operating costs would decrease by almost $18 million; under the second scenario they would decrease by more than $138 million. State funding for school districts would decrease by an estimated $15 million and $129 million, respectively. Under both scenarios, the reductions in funding for districts could be greater than the reductions in their operating costs, meaning that many districts could have a net loss. Furthermore, some consolidated districts may need to make more capital expenditures for new or expanded school buildings. School officials from districts we visited voiced a number of concerns about district consolidation, but none of the issues they raised prohibit consolidation. Finally, while Kansas currently offers some financial incentives to encourage voluntary consolidation, other potential incentives could be considered.
K-12 Education: Efficiency Audit of the Ellinwood School District
The Ellinwood school district has taken some positive steps to become more efficient and control costs, but it lacks a systematic approach for evaluating and managing its efficiency. In addition, the district miscategorizes some of its expenditure data, making meaningful efficiency comparisons with other districts difficult. We identified several significant opportunities for the district to operate more efficiently and reduce costs which, if addressed, could save the district about $540,000 each year. The most significant of these—and the one that would require the most change to implement—involves closing the elementary school, eliminating certain elementary school staff, and moving the elementary students to the middle-high school. We also identified opportunities to fill high school classes to capacity and to hire part-time teachers.
Judicial Districts in Kansas: Determining Whether Boundaries Could Be Redrawn to Increase Efficiency and Reduce Costs
In fiscal year 2008, the district courts spent an estimated $114 million on operating costs, and had more than 1,800 full-time-equivalent staff. Almost $101 million was paid by the State and almost $102 million went for district court personnel salaries and benefits. Since court unification in 1977, the distribution of cases per judge has remained very uneven across judicial districts. On average, caseloads are higher in districts that have a lot of cases. The disparity in cases per judge is caused primarily by the law requiring one judge per county, regardless of the number of cases in that county. We used statistical analyses to help predict the Statewide cost of operating a newly structured district court system that better aligned resources with caseloads, and that wasn’t limited by current statutory requirements. The savings that could be achieved vary based on the assumptions and estimates used. Under one scenario, had the district courts operated in fiscal year 2008 with 13 judicial districts instead of 31, we estimated that court personnel and travel costs combined could have been $6.2 million (5.4%) less for State and local governments combined. Under another scenario, had the courts operated with only seven districts in 2008, those costs could have been approximately $8.1 million (7.1%) less. Additional cost savings likely are possible with increased use of technology. Even without redrawing existing judicial district boundaries, the State could achieve cost savings by eliminating the one-judge-per-county law.
Department of Corrections: Reviewing Allegations of Staff Misconduct
Over the last few years, there have been three highly publicized incidents occurring at the Lansing, El Dorado, and Topeka Correctional Facilities. Two of these incidents involved inmate escapes with the help of individuals associated with the correctional facilities. The third incident involved a female inmate getting pregnant after having sexual relations with a correctional employee. These three cases had red flags that facility officials should have recognized and acted upon, which could have prevented each of those incidents. At both Lansing and El Dorado Correctional Facilities, staff failed to follow policies and procedures in place at the time of those incidents. However, the facilities and the Department of Corrections have taken steps to reduce the likelihood such incidents will happen in the future. At Topeka Correctional Facility, a variety of reasons made conditions ripe for staff sexual misconduct in this situation, including a lack of controls over staff and inmate whereabouts. While Topeka Correctional Facility has made some changes, more steps need to be taken to address these particular concerns and to address other systemic problems we noted at the Facility. Data show 197 investigations of facility staff for allegations of sexual misconduct, undue familiarity and trafficking in contraband at these three facilities over five years. When we compared the three facilities’ investigations into these areas, we noted the following: Topeka had significantly more investigations per 100 employees than the other two facilities; Topeka had 58% of its investigations centered on sexual misconduct compared with 9% and 16% at El Dorado and Lansing respectively, and Topeka officials only substantiated about 28% of the investigations, compared with 78% and 76% at the other two facilities. For those cases that were substantiated, the punishment imposed for Topeka cases appeared to be more inconsistent and lenient, especially for undue familiarity. We noted additional areas of concern, including the fact that statutory penalties in Kansas for staff sexual misconduct aren’t as severe as in other states and are even less severe than those for staff trafficking in contraband. Further, we found the Department lacks sufficient management information to ensure that officials are aware of the level of staff misconduct.