What is an audit?
A performance audit is an evaluation of how well a government function, agency, program, or activity is working. The purpose of these audits is to provide legislators and agency management with accurate, unbiased information which can be used to create, manage, oversee, modify, and occasionally eliminate agencies or programs. Our performance audits typically answer the following types of questions:
- Is the program or agency complying with the law?
- Is the program or agency accomplishing what it is supposed to accomplish?
- Could the program or agency operate more efficiently?
- What might happen if the agency or program were changed?
In practice, most performance audits answer a combination of these types of questions.
How are audits selected?
While some audits are statutorily required, most are requested by legislators and approved by the Legislative Post Audit Committee. Under the Legislative Post Audit Act, individual legislators, legislative committees, or the Governor can request a performance audit, but the Legislative Post Audit Committee ultimately decides which audits we will conduct. The process works as follows:
A legislator, legislative committee, or representative from the Governor’s Office contacts our staff to let us know they are interested in an audit.
- We work with the requestor to develop an audit proposal that summarizes the request. The proposal includes background information on their concerns, a list of specific questions the audit would answer, a tentative methodology for answering the questions, and an estimate of the time and resources that would be required.
- Once the requestor is satisfied that the proposed audit would adequately address their concerns, we submit it to the Legislative Post Audit Committee for consideration.
- The Legislative Post Audit Committee considers the audit proposals at its spring meeting and selects the audits for the coming year.
Audits may only be requested by legislators, legislative committees, or representatives from the Governor’s Office. Constituents may contact their legislators to recommend they request an audit.
Any legislators interested in requesting an audit should contact the division’s Deputy Post Auditor, Chris Clarke, at (785) 296-6502 or via e-mail at Chris.Clarke@lpa.ks.gov.
Who can LPA audit?
The Legislative Post Audit Act (K.S.A. 46-1114) gives our office broad authority to conduct audits of state and local agencies, as well as certain private individuals and organizations. Those auditable entities include:
- any state agency
- any local government agency that receives funding from or through the state
- anyone who receives a grant from the state
- anyone who contracts with the state
- anyone who is licensed or regulated by any state agency
Although state law gives us authority to audit any state agency, in practice we do not directly audit the legislative branch of government because we would not be viewed as impartial and independent. In addition, our authority to audit private individuals or organizations who do business with the state is limited to their specific grant or contract. Similarly, our authority to audit those who are licensed or regulated by the state is limited to the licensed or regulated activity.
Legislative Post Audit Committee (LPAC)
LPA reports to the Legislative Post Audit Committee (LPAC), a bipartisan joint committee of the Kansas Legislature. It includes a total of 10 members. The Senate President and the House Speaker each get to appoint three members, while the Senate and House minority leaders each appoint two members. The committee selects the topics for LPA audits and directs the final distribution of those reports. The committee is also responsible for hiring and evaluating the head of the agency (the Legislative Post Auditor) and for reviewing and approving the agency’s annual budget request.
Under the Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards promulgated by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), all audit agencies must undergo a triennial peer review. The purpose of this review is to assess whether we have designed and implemented a system of quality control to ensure our audits comply with those standards.
Our office contracts with the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers, and Treasurers (NASACT) for our triennial peer review. Our most recent peer review was completed in October 2016, and we received the highest rating possible.
Types of Audits
Most of the audits we conduct are performance audits. These audits typically compare how a state agency or program is currently working to how it should be working. Is it complying with state law? Is it effective in accomplishing its intended goals? Is it operating in an efficient manner? If the answer to any of those questions is no, we work to understand the root cause of the problem and make recommendations for how to fix it.
Limited Scope Audits
Limited-scope audits are very simple and narrow performance audits. Our committee rules specify that these are audits not anticipated to require more than 100 staff hours to complete. If we think an audit request is simple enough, we work with the requestor to develop a limited-scope request.
K.S.A. 46-1135 also provides for our office to conduct information technology (IT) audits as directed by the Post Audit Committee. This includes two broad classes of IT audits: IT security audits and project monitoring. IT security audits assess the security controls agencies have established to protect their IT systems. The detailed security reports are considered confidential under the Kansas Open Records Act, though we do publish a high-level summary of the security findings once every three years. Project monitoring audits are continuous evaluations of ongoing IT projects to help ensure they comply with project management requirements and best practices, and to help identify projects that are at risk of failure. These reports are published on a quarterly basis.
How do I get a copy of an audit?
Every performance audit report we have issued since 2010 is available on this website (older audit reports can be provided upon request from our office). The most recent audits can be found on the home page, while the audit search page can be used to quickly locate one of our archived audits. Searches can be conducted by year, subject, agency, or keyword.
Open Records Request
The Kansas Open Records Act (K.S.A. 45-215 et seq) governs the rights and responsibilities of both the public agency and anyone requesting records from that agency. For a complete description of those rights and responsibilities, please review the full statute on the Kansas Legislature’s website. To make an open-records request related to a particular audit report, please send a request by email to the supervisor or manager of that audit (listed in the report). Please include at least your name and address, and a description of the records you are seeking, with as much specificity as possible. We may contact you to seek further clarification on which records you are asking for. By law, we have three business days to either provide the records or provide an explanation for the delay.
If you have other questions regarding Legislative Post Audit’s open records policies, or to make a records request, please contact our records custodian, Nicole Blanchett, at Nicole.Blanchett@lpa.ks.gov.
In general, our records are available in electronic form; you may make an email request and receive the requested records as an email attachment, on a DVD, or through some other types of digital media.