State Government : Performance Audit : Earlier work
This page contains synopses, links to published reports, and other materials addressing government operations, including information technology (IT), finance, and regulatory reform.
Regulatory Reform: Enhancing Regulatory Agency Coordination (pdf, 1.5 mb)
Summary: By coordinating their regulatory requirements and permitting activities, regulatory agencies can help promote economic vitality and improve program efficiency. This performance audit found that state agencies coordinate some of their work, but much of that coordination is informal and depends on the actions of individuals rather than policy. The audit identifies the need for a lead agency and a long-term strategy to identify and prioritize opportunities for targeted, multi-agency coordination of regulatory processes. See the videocast here (YouTube). Read the two-page summary (pdf, 81 kb) Learn more about earlier audits in this series.
Opportunities to Improve State IT Security (pdf, 1.4mb)
Summary: While Washington has taken many measures to protect itself from cyber threats, this performance audit found opportunities to strengthen the state's information technology (IT) security posture to reduce the risk of hacking or other attacks. We found that the state's IT security standards align with leading practices, but we also found that agencies are not fully complying with all standards. Our compliance and application security testing found numerous issues at those agencies we tested, including significant discrepancies between agency-reported compliance with state standards and our own results. See multimedia materials here. Read the two-page summary (pdf, 100 kb) Read Appendix C additional materials (pdf, 292 kb)
Debt-Offset Programs: A tool to help Washington collect delinquent debt (pdf, 1.8mb)Controls over EBT Cards and the Eligibility of Card Users (pdf, 875kb)November 2014
Summary: By implementing a state debt-offset program and participating in the U.S. Treasury's State Reciprocal Program, this performance audit found that Washington could more quickly and efficiently collect delinquent business debt. These programs intercept payments the state makes to businesses that owe money to the state and use it to offset debts the business owes, such as delinquent state taxes. We researched leading practices, and spoke to nine states that use debt-offset programs, and found that effective programs encourage wide participation across agencies, and use processes that are standardized and automated. The report includes recommendations that could help Washington establish a comprehensive debt-offset program. See multimedia materials here. Read the two-page summary (182 kb)
The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) administers large federal food and financial assistance programs, which provide nearly $2 billion in annual benefits to low–income Washington residents. These program benefits can be abused or paid to persons who do not qualify to receive them. Recent legislation required DSHS to make efforts to address these risks an agency priority. This audit concluded that DSHS’ efforts are effective in those areas examined. We did identify a few areas where DSHS can further improve that effectiveness: using data to more quickly identify program participants who have moved out of state, earned more income than allowed, or died while receiving benefits. View the videocast here (YouTube). Read the two-page summary (pdf, 82 kb).
Performance Measures in Economic Development Programs (pdf, 1mb)
Summary: The Associate Development Organization program, managed by the Department of Commerce, provides economic development services tailored to meet local needs. We found that assessing the direct impact of this program is difficult because so many factors influence business owners' decisions to expand or relocate. The report offers suggestions and leading practices that can help the state develop more effective performance measurement systems for economic development programs. Listen to the podcast here. Read the two-page summary (pdf, 85 kb)
Safe Data Disposal (pdf, 637kb)
Summary: We checked a sample of state computers sent for surplus or sale and found some contained confidential data that should have been removed. After our audit found weaknesses in the data removal system, state government organizations responded swiftly to improve their processes and better protect data on surplus computers. See multimedia materials here. Read the two-page summary (pdf, 80kb)
Regulatory Reform: Improving Permit Timeliness (pdf, 1.9mb)
Summary: State agencies could shorten the time it takes to submit, review and make decisions on business permit applications through simple improvements. Agencies and businesses don’t always know how long processes take because not all agencies measure permitting times or provide that information online. Regulatory agencies can improve permit processing times by giving businesses more information and help as they prepare their applications, by measuring how long permit decisions take, and then using that data and other measures to identify and correct process bottlenecks. Read the two-page summary (pdf, 111kb). Explore other materials from our regulatory reform audits here.
Creating a 21st-century Financial Management System in Washington (pdf, 4mb) May 2013
Summary: Washington’s current financial management system, which administers multi-billion-dollar budgets, is not meeting the state’s needs. System inefficiencies accounted for more than a quarter of the time state agency staff spent on the financial management tasks we evaluated in this audit, but the current system is not in imminent danger of collapse. A new system would be costly, but could pay for itself over time. Read the two-page summary (pdf, 319kb)
Regulatory Reform: Communicating Regulatory Information and Streamlining Business Rules (pdf, 6.7mb) September 2012
Summary: First in a series of performance audit reports designed to identify ways Washington's state agencies can improve their interactions with businesses. We found the state is a long way from completing the vision of a "one-stop" solution to help business people find everything they need to comply with the state and local laws and regulations governing them. The audit also examined several agencies' efforts to streamline their business rules. Explore other materials from our regulatory reform audits here.