2017 Legislative Audits
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1. Summary of Report 2017-01: Performance Audit of Utah's Monetary Bail System
This audit reviews the effectiveness of the two types of monetary bail commonly offered in Utah’s district courts: cash bail and surety bond. We found that while the use of cash bail is limited, it resulted in better court attendance than the use of surety bonds. Based on statewide failure to appear (FTA) data from fiscal year 2015, 17 percent of cash bail cases had at least one FTA while 26 percent of surety bond cases had at least one FTA. We do not recommend using cash bail more frequently because our results do not account for defendant risk, which is a significant contributor to court attendance. We also found that pretrial release decisions are made without adequate information. Because pretrial decisions are made without information about defendant risk and because these decisions impact public safety, taxpayer resources, and defendant outcomes, we recommend that the Administrative Office of the Courts work towards the adoption of an evidence-based risk assessment instrument. Finally, we reviewed the surety bond forfeiture process and found opportunities for improvement. Specifically, the forfeiture process could be shortened and streamlined to better promote court appearances.
Full Report -A Performance Audit of Utah's Monetary Bail System
2. Summary of Report 2017-02: A Performance Audit of the Utah Antidiscrimination and Labor Division’s Employment Discrimination Unit
We were asked to review the Utah Labor Commission Antidiscrimination and Labor Division (UALD) with particular focus on the division’s Employment Discrimination Unit. We found that both the investigative and mediation processes are insufficient and need improvement. We are concerned by the low rate of cause findings in employment discrimination investigations and the perceived lack of accountability. In addition, UALD needs to address inadequate performance measures for its employees as well as high turnover. Finally, the UALD budget needs additional oversight.
3. Summary of Report 2017-03: A Performance Audit of USBE's "Aspire" Student Information System
This report found that the Aspire student information system (SIS) cost the Utah State Board of Education (USBE) about $1.1 million, ($7 per student) to operate in fiscal year 2016. The cost of requiring local education agencies (LEAs) to find a private SIS is estimated to be $3.8 to $8.1 million in the first year ($23 to $49 per student). LEAs that use Aspire are generally smaller school districts or charter schools. We recommend USBE consider the pros and cons of different levels of privatization before determining the future of the Aspire program.
4. Summary of Report 2017-04: A Performance Audit of the Sex Offender Treatment Program
This audit examined the Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP) managed by the Utah Department of Corrections. We found that the SOTP has had poor management and oversight, lacks current evidence-based practices in its treatment model, and can improve program efficiencies. Poor management and oversight of the program has resulted in SOTP not following statute, the lack of performance measures, and the failure to implement recommendations of previous evaluations. In addition, the SOTP treatment model should be updated to ensure the most current evidence-based practices are implemented. We further believe that SOTP can improve program efficiencies to help reduce the treatment waitlist.
5. Summary of Report 2017-05: A Review of the Best Practices for Internal Control of Utah's Limited Purpose Entities
In recent years, there has been a growing concern for the frequent reports of fraud, waste and abuse among Utah’s local districts, special serviced districts and other, limited purpose governmental entities. To determine how widespread the problems might be, we surveyed 27 limited purpose entities from throughout the state and concluded that poor governance and weak oversight are common among these local government entities. To reduce the risk of fraud, waste and abuse, we recommend that the governing board of each limited purpose entity in Utah consider the best practices for internal control described in this report. Legislators should also consider adopting several controls aimed at strengthening state level the oversight of limited purpose entities.
6. Summary of Report 2017-06: A Performance Audit of Statewide Investigative Functions
The Department of Public Safety’s State Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the Attorney General’s Investigations Division are authorized to investigate criminal activity throughout Utah. Our efforts to compare the efficiency and effectiveness of the offices were limited due to poor case records management. In recent years, disagreements over programs and funding have created tension between the two offices and led some to question their roles and functions. We reviewed case files and found that there is no wasteful redundancy in the areas each office is legally mandated to investigate. We also compared the offices to those in other states and found no clear reason to change Utah’s current structure.
Full Report - A Performance Audit of Statewide Investigative Functions
7. Summary of Report 2017-07: A Performance Audit of Public Entities’ Oversight of the Qualified Health Insurance Statutes
This audit examined the oversight that six public entities provided to ensure construction contractors offered adequate health insurance that complied with the qualified health insurance (QHI) statute. Of the 23 contractors reviewed during the audit, five offered inadequate health insurance that was affected by the following issues. For nearly seven years, three of the four public entities with applicable contracts did not collect compliance documentation from their contractors. Additionally, the Division of Facilities Construction and Management (DFCM) has not developed adequate processes to oversee subcontractor compliance. All public entities affected by QHI lacked sufficient processes to ensure adequate employer premium contributions were being made. Finally, two contract types related to DFCM have been circumventing the QHI process and need to be addressed.
8. Summary of Report 2017-08: A Performance Audit of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation
This audit reviewed the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation’s management of Olympic assets and found that these assets are beginning to reach the end of their life expectancies and need major repairs and replacement. Over the next ten years, $39.3 million in capital improvement costs will be needed to bring assets up to standards. However, UOLF’s Legacy Fund is insufficient to cover these costs. The Legislature should consider funding options outlined in this report because updating these assets is crucial for another Olympic bid, which the Legislature supports, and the foundations ability to host premier sporting events. The foundation has been seeking less reliance on Legacy Fund subsidies to cover operating losses and has increased revenues faster than expenses. Even with these improvements the foundation will continue to be dependent on Legacy Fund subsidies and is vulnerable to poor performing investments and economic downturns. Overall, the foundation has been meeting goals set by the Legislature and has been fostering an Olympic legacy.
9. Summary of Report 2017-09: A Review of the Procurement Process for the U of U's Heritage 1K Project
This report found that the University of Utah did not follow appropriate procurement processes when awarding a contract to a company owned by the person who donated the $12 million for the project. Request for sole source status and approval of that request were done too late in the process to follow state code. Had the University competitively bid the project, they could have gotten the same services for half the price, which would have allowed them to sequence twice the number of genomes. Despite these concerns, valuable scientific information was gathered using the donated funds.
10. Summary of Report 2017-10: A Performance Audit of Beaver Valley Hospital's Medicaid Upper Payment Limit Program
This report found that adequate controls have not been implemented by Beaver Valley Hospital (BVH) throughout its 40 nursing facilities they operate. Money used to receive federal funds, known as seeding, requires greater oversight by the Department of Health. Ensuring that federal rules are being observed and to minimize the risk of a disallowance repayment of over $20 million. This potential repayment could result in the reimbursement of the $20 million by BVH, which they may not have the ability to repay, which, therefore, could fall on the state. Federal funds, called the Upper Payment Limit (UPL), are to be used to improve member care, however, evidence of adequate oversight could not be found to ensure that these funds were used for this purpose. We also found that quality of care control measures was not documented in contracts between BVH and the nursing facilities they operate.
11. Summary of Report 2017-11: A Limited Review of Sources of Funding and Expenditures for Homeless Initiatives
This audit examined the various funding streams for homeless services, where they originated and what they are used for. We found that the federal government is the largest funder of homeless services in Utah, followed by the state. Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City are also heavily involved in funding homeless services. Additionally, both Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City are heavily involved in funding associated costs of homelessness such as police, fire, and the county jail. We found that county spending on homelessness could be more transparent, and recent efforts to increase coordination of homeless funding and services should continue to increase the efficiency of homeless funding.
12. Summary of Report 2017-12: A Performance Audit of the History of Selected Public Education Programs
We conducted a performance history review of five education programs (K-3 Reading Improvement, Critical Languages, Dual Immersion, Student Leadership Skills, and Digital Teaching and Learning) and the school grading accountability system. Based on this review, USBE’s strategic plan can be enhanced with the addition of guiding oversight and accountability principles at the state level. We believe that these guiding principles will help USBE to effectively implement and operate education programs, and help improve the policy-making process.
13. Summary of Report 2017-13: A Performance Audit of the Division of Family Health and Preparedness
We were asked to conduct a performance audit of the Division of Family Health and Preparedness, whose mission is to “promote optimal health outcomes for Utah’s most vulnerable populations”. We focused our review on three main areas as well as the Division’s management. First, we found that Child Care Licensing needs clear policies regarding sanctions and appeals. Second, Health Facility Licensing needs shorter timeframes between reviews of facilities as well as improved processes to reduce risk to facility residents. Third, the Baby Watch Early Intervention Program can improve both monitoring and data utilization and consider funding sources such as private insurance. Finally, we identified opportunities for the Division to improve performance management. The Division agrees with the audit findings and is working toward fully implementing all recommendations.
14. Summary of Report 2017-14: A Performance Audit of State Energy Incentives
We were asked to review state subsidies, credits, and other incentives for energy-related activities. We found that state funds and state-regulated funds provided energy incentives from many different programs and are not centrally tracked. These energy incentives constituted $566 million in the last five years. Specifically, energy incentives through state tax credits are substantial at over $74 million while energy-incentivizing state tax exemptions and deductions are not quantified. In addition, state grant and loan programs provided over $49 million in energy incentives, with most coming from programs that are not specifically focused on incentivizing energy activities. Other state programs (including the administrative costs of state energy incentives) and state-regulated utility programs spent over $442 million on energy incentive programs. Monitoring the effectiveness of state energy incentives needs more guidance.
Full Report -A Performance Audit of State Energy Incentives
15. Summary of Report 2017-16: An In Depth Follow-up of the Division of Drinking Water’s Minimum Source Sizing Requirements
The Division of Drinking Water has made progress towards implementing the recommendations of our December 2014 audit report. Our prior report concluded that the division’s source sizing standards appear too high and that its outdoor standards appear to low. We recommended the division adopt new source sizing standards based on the actual water demand reported by local water systems. Recent data gathered from four large water districts confirms the earlier findings that the standards do not align well with current water use. What is unclear, is the effect that unaccounted for water has on such comparisons. Even so, the division has concluded that its current approach to regulation is not optimal. Rather than developing a new set of source sizing standards that apply statewide, the division has proposed that each public water system identify the source capacity that best meets its own local demand for water. This approach would require each water system to collect the data they need to identify the appropriate source sizing and storage capacity of its own water system. To accomplish this, each water system would need to monitor its peak day demand, total annual demand and unaccounted for water use. We recommend that water systems include this information the in the annual water use reports the submit to the Division of Water Rights.
16. Summary of Report 2017-17: An In-depth Follow-up of Projections of Utah’s Water Needs
Our in-depth follow-up concludes the latest water use data is much improved. However, the Division of Water Resources (DWRe) and the Division of Water Rights (DWRi) need more time to finish implementing all the recommendations in our May 2015 audit report. For example, DWRe can do more trend analysis and validation of water use data. DWRe should also take steps to validate their estimates of secondary water use. Some progress has been made towards implementing our recommendations regarding water conservation. However, even though the Legislature and the Governor have expressed support for universal metering, only a few cities with secondary systems have installed meters on each connection. In addition, many but not all water systems have complied with the new law requiring a tiered pricing structure. This report recommends the Legislature consider leak detection as another strategy for reduce water consumption. Finally, DWRe is still working on updating its basin plans and intends to develop better estimates of the future water supply. DWRi needs to complete its rollout of a new web portal for collecting water use data.