Recent Performance Audit reports
Reports issued from 2012 onward can be found by topic area on our Earlier Work page. Reports from earlier years can be found using Search Reports; apply Advanced Search terms to refine the results of your search.
Embedded Commercial Recycling in Washington Cities (pdf, 265 kb)
Some cities in Washington make recycling an automatic part of garbage service for businesses. Performance auditors found that this practice may result in higher recycling rates, but may also reduce the competition for recycling services in that area and results in businesses paying more in both changes and taxes. Because the Office was asked by the Legislature to answer specific questions, we do not make recommendations in this audit. However, in light of changes in the recycling market, we suggest that cities and haulers reconsider how they collect recycling in future contract negotiations. Read the two-page summary (pdf, 112 kb)
Improving Cannabis Risk Management Tools Using Business Transaction Data (pdf, 2.3 mb)
Summary: Performance auditors found ways to help the Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) improve its use of automated risk management tools in its new marijuana tracking system. The audit found LCB can use data it already collects to calculate reasonable value ranges for marijuana processing yields, inventory adjustments, sales and other transactions at steps where the risk for diverting product to the illegal market is particularly high. Recommendations include establishing thresholds that will automatically alert LCB staff to unusual data that fall outside the reasonable ranges, allowing the agency to prioritize its audits and enforcement investigations. Read the two-page summary (pdf, 192kb). View 11" x 17" maps of cannabis production, processing and retail activities (pdf, 1.1 mb).
Ensuring Notification to Schools and Districts of Student Criminal Offenses (pdf, 1 mb)
Summary: This performance audit identified gaps and breakdowns in the processes state agencies, courts and law enforcement use to send notifications about student who have committed certain crimes to schools and districts. Rather than waiting for the published report, audited organizations chose to act immediately on a number of issues the audit identified; improvements already under way include better documentation, guidance, training and monitoring. The audit also identified some statutory changes that might help improve the system. To facilitate the process, the Auditor's Office convened a work group of stakeholders to being addressing issues. The report recommends the Legislature formalize the work group to continue seeking solutions. A follow-up audit will review notification processes within and between schools and districts. Read the two-page summary (pdf, 354 kb). View the videocast here (YouTube).
Alternative Learning Experiences in Washington: Student characteristics and innovative approaches (pdf, 5 mb)
Summary: As part of a recent performance audit, auditors gathered information directly from all Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) programs in Washington to learn how they are meeting their intended purpose, which is to give schools flexibility to serve a diverse student population. In addition to a survey (explore survey results here), the final report offers insight into aspects of ALE programs that serve populations with challenges that traditional schools might not meet as effectively. However, the audit also encountered problems in the way school districts report ALE student enrollment in the state's student information system, CEDARS. The audit makes recommendations to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to help improve data. Read the two-page summary (pdf, 523 kb). This work was part of a mandated series of audits. Learn more about earlier performance audits here, and about financial audits performed by our Schools Team here. Read a letter or watch a video message (YouTube) from State Auditor Pat McCarthy about the overall project.
Continuing Opportunities to Improve State IT Security - 2017 (pdf, 365 kb)
Summary: The most recent performance audit to examine IT security controls at Washington state agencies worked with subject matter experts to conduct assessments of organizational IT infrastructure and applications. We again consulted with the state's Chief Information Security Officer at WaTech's Office of Cyber Security, and compared state practices to leading practices. We found the three agencies included in the audit have taken significant measures to protect their IT systems from risk, and we made suggestions to them directly and to the Office of Cyber Security. However, to protect the state's IT systems from attack, our report does not include the agencies' names or detailed descriptions of our results.
Leading Practices for the State's Secondary Career and Technical Education Programs (pdf, 2.5 mb)
Summary: The state's secondary CTE courses with the highest enrollment could more strongly align with high-wage, high-demand occupational areas. Many mid-level-skill jobs, in industries as diverse as robotics, carpentry and medical technology, pay well and require no more than two years of education from a community or technical college. However, Washington employers report being unable to fill many such jobs. The audit identified four areas for improvement, including improving career guidance, strengthening employer engagement and the review of local labor demand data, clarifying state laws, and expanding the number of dual-credit opportunities to increase the number of pathways from high school to college. If Washington adopts leading practices in these four areas, the state could create more opportunities for students while closing the gap between students' skills and employers' needs. View the videocast here (YouTube). Read the two-page summary (pdf, 92 kb).
Reducing Costs through Faster Medicaid Income Verifications (pdf, 940 kb)
Summary: When the Affordable Care Act was implemented in 2014, actual enrollment of new adults more than doubled the state's initial estimate. Despite the higher-than-expected enrollment, the number of Health Care Authority staff conducting income verifications did not increase, resulting in a backlog of applications waiting for processing. This backlog contributed to slow verification processing times and resulted in ineligible clients receiving five months of benefits on average before ending coverage. In spring 2017, the agency significantly improved verification processing productivity, which will help reduce the backlog and the amount of benefits purchased for people who do not qualify. This audit determined the agency could further reduce the amount of benefits purchased for ineligible clients if it hires additional verification workers starting in July 2018. This would likely result in net state savings that exceed $13 million by June 2020. Because of funding restrictions, the agency will need a legislative appropriation to pay for these additional employees. Read the two-page summary (pdf, 99 kb).
Ensuring transparent pricing and customer-focused IT services at WaTech (pdf, 1.6 mb)
Summary: In response to customer agency concerns, this performance audit examined WaTech’s service offerings and its processes for gathering and incorporating customer input, making prices transparent, and monitoring service costs. The agencies interviewed for this performance audit comprised 70 percent of WaTech’s monthly revenue, making them high-impact customers; most of these agencies said WaTech’s services do not meet their needs. WaTech has also struggled to recover its costs on half of its business centers. However, WaTech has been making improvements to address agency concerns. and to balance its budget. View the videocast here (YouTube). Read the two-page summary (pdf, 101 kb).
Determining Costs per Student for Washington's Medical Schools (pdf, 3mb)
Summary: At the Legislature’s direction, our performance audit team examined the costs of medical education at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine and the projected costs at Washington State University’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. We looked at the total cost of educating a medical student at both schools – not how much a student pays to attend medical school – and whether state or resident tuition funds subsidize students from other states. The audit does not compare costs between the two medical schools because differences in programs, including the number of students and the length of time in operation, affect the cost of a medical education. View additional materials from the report's appendices here.
Correctional Industries: Planning, pricing and market share (pdf, 1.1 mb)
Summary: One of the ways the Washington State Department of Corrections attempts to reduce the number of people returning to prison after release is through its Correctional Industries (CI) program, a work-training program that strives to teach inmates marketable job skills. Our performance audit found that while CI seeks to maintain and expand its work training programs, it has had challenges expanding existing industries and planning for new ones; we recommended four leading practices that could help CI strengthen its planning and programming development, such as establishing a formal, agency-wide business planning policy and improving processes for gaining customer feedback. Further, establishing a pricing policy could help CI ensure it prices its products competitively. We also found that most industries are under the market-share threshold set by CI. View the videocast here (YouTube). Read the two-page summary (pdf, 97 kb).
Regulatory Reform: Assessing Implementation of the Regulatory Fairness Act (pdf, 1.2 mb)
Summary: This performance audit, the fourth in a series exploring aspects of regulatory reform, offered suggestions to help agencies meet the requirements of the Regulatory Fairness Act, a law designed to help mitigate any disproportionate costs of regulation on small businesses. We also identified materials (listed below) that can help agencies meet all the Act's requirements. View the videocast here (YouTube). Read the two-page summary (pdf, 198 kb). View earlier work around regulatory reform.
Workforce Development: Identifying CTE Student Outcomes (pdf, 740 kb)
Summary: This performance audit asked what Washington's data could tell us about the characteristics of high school students who participated in CTE courses and those who did not, and their achievements after graduation. By following graduates' post-secondary paths, we found that by 2015, CTE students graduating in 2012 or 2013 were more likely to be enrolled in community or technical college, entered into an apprenticeship or employed, than non-CTE students. Further, among graduates who did not enter higher education, CTE students were significantly more likely to achieve in terms of employment and apprenticeships. However, the data we reviewed is subject to restrictions on how and by whom it may be used. Our recommendations suggest ways the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Education Research and Data Center can work together to help school districts apply for and use the data. View the videocast here (YouTube). Read the two-page summary (pdf, 90 kb). View earlier work around workforce development.