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.
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
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.
Barriers to Home Care Aide Certification (pdf, 2.1 mb)
Summary: Through a survey of applicants who did not become certified, we found that almost two-thirds dropped out due to barriers, many facing problems when signing up for training or the exam. Respondents said they could not find course times that fit their schedule or a training location or testing site close to home. Respondents who did not speak English would often find language barriers insurmountable and leave the program. Many said it was difficult finding training and exams in their preferred language. The departments of Health and Social and Health Services have taken steps to address these barriers working with their partners to try to increase the number of locations that offer training and exams. View the videocast here (YouTube). Read the two-page summary (pdf, 96 kb). View earlier work around Initiative 1163.
Medical Discipline in Washington (pdf, 1.6 mb)
Summary: This performance audit examined the processes around medical discipline in Washington applied by the Medical Quality Assurance Commission (MQAC) and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery. Despite similarities in the professions they serve and the issues they review, we found a number of differences in how the two boards manage their affairs and regulate their providers. Our key recommendation, to merge these two boards, would address many of the issues we found and promote consistency. We also noted other areas for improvement, including better communicating their presence and purpose to the public and interacting with complainants. Finally, we identified some elements in the statutes that govern medical discipline that the Legislature and the boards should consider addressing. View the videocast here (YouTube). Read the two-page summary (pdf, 94 kb).
Continuing Opportunities to Improve State Information Technology Security - 2016 (pdf, 310 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 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.
Ensuring Economical and Efficient Printing for Washington (pdf, 660 kb)
Summary: This performance audit (a follow-up to one conducted in 2011) considered the progress made by state agencies, including the Department of Enterprise Services' Printing & Imaging (P&I) program, in reducing statewide printing costs. We found that P&I needs more vendor-pricing and performance information to fully demonstrate its print prices are competitive with the private sector. DES is promoting print management strategies to state agencies, although few have implemented any strategies. We estimate savings of up to $3.9 million to $11.7 million but we were unable to estimate how much of this amount the state has already saved through partial implementation. Read the two-page summary (pdf, 130 kb). View the videocast here (YouTube).
The Effect of Public Records Requests on Washington's State and Local Governments (pdf, 1.1 mb)
Summary: At the request of the Legislature, this performance audit examined the effect of public records requests on state and local governments. We found that a changing public records environment and a Public Records Act (PRA) that has not kept pace with present-day issues pose challenges that, if not addressed, may undermine the original intent of public records laws and hinder other essential government services. The state and local governments that responded to our statewide survey reported spending more than $60 million to fulfill more than 285,000 public records requests in the most recent year alone. Requesters pay only a small portion of the costs (less than 1 percent) involved in fulfilling public records requests. Our
research shows that a combination of statewide policy changes and better
information management and disclosure practices is needed to keep pace with
changing times. We identified policies the Legislature can consider to address
public records issues. We also identified practical solutions that can help
state and local governments continue to improve their records management and
disclosure processes. Read the two-page summary (pdf, 89 kb). Watch a video and explore the full results of our survey here.
Washington State Patrol Radio Narrowbanding Project (pdf, 1.3 mb)
Summary: The Washington State Patrol opted to meet a federal mandate by using digital narrowband radio equipment and by entering into an agreement with the Department of Justice to use its Integrated Wireless Network (IWN), built by Motorola. We found the Patrol could have benefited from the knowledge provided by an engineering study before designing its narrowband system, while soliciting competitive proposals could have helped it better assess the best project approach. While it has likely maintained coverage where it was already good, and partnered successfully with other agencies to address coverage issues, it has likely lost coverage in areas that had poor but usable sound quality before converting to narrowband. View the videocast here (YouTube). Read the two-page summary (pdf, 101 kb).
I-1163: Long-term Care Worker Certification Requirements 2016 (pdf, 213 kb)
Summary: This performance audit continues our series of reports
mandated by Initiative 1163. We found the Department of Health and the Department
of Social and Health Services have continued to identify and address barriers
to home care aide certification. Key improvements include: sharing data to
identify trends and monitor applicant progress through certification, helping
applicants with limited English proficiency, and streamlining the application
itself. View the videocast and earlier report here.
Costs and Sustainability at the Washington Health Benefit Exchange (pdf, 1.9 mb)
Summary: The Health Benefit Exchange helps customers buy health insurance plans and determines whether they are eligible for subsidies that help pay for them. The Legislature required the State Auditor's Office to examine the Exchange's operating costs. We found the Exchange has not been fully reimbursed by the state and federal Medicaid program for nearly $90 million in services provided on behalf of the Health Care Authority; we recommend the Exchange and HCA work together to ensure proper payment allocations. We also found the Exchange's operating expenses appear reasonable, and that joining the federal health exchange program now would increase the Exchange's overall costs. Finally, we made recommendations that can help the Exchange manage its financial self-sustainability in the future. View the videocast here (YouTube). Read the two-page summary (pdf, 193 kb).
Administrative Appeals (pdf, 2.3 mb)
Summary: Administrative appeals offer people and businesses a way to dispute agency decisions without resorting to the courts. This performance audit found that these hearings are functioning as intended, but striking the proper balance between implementing agency policy and providing a fair process is challenging. Our recommendations address two issues in particular: clarifying the role of informal guidance from agency management to administrative judges and clarifying the nature of communications permitted between agency and judges. We also make recommendations directly to some of the agencies whose processes we reviewed. Read the two-page summary (pdf, 90 kb).
Washington State Department of Transportation: Improving the Toll Collection System (pdf, 2.4 mb)
Summary: While WSDOT's toll collection system has been operational since 2011, our performance audit found that the system lacks critical functions and has other operational limitations that affect toll processing, collection and managerial reporting. Missing or incomplete functions limit the Toll Division's ability to assess performance, write off outstanding debt, or correct billing information efficiently. We also found that WSDOT has been unsuccessful in its efforts to enforce the toll system vendor's compliance with information security standards, which could put customer information at risk. Finally, the agency has paid only limited attention to management activities that could improve its ability to effectively develop and operate this complex system. View the videocast here. Read the two-page summary (pdf, 119 kb)
Improving Staff Safety in Washington's Prisons (pdf, 1.9 mb)
Summary: Following the death of a corrections officer in 2011, Washington's Department of Corrections implemented a series of initiatives designed to improve the safety of staff working in the state's prisons. Our performance audit found that while no other state has developed and implemented such a comprehensive effort to improve staff safety, opportunities for improvement exist. While each prison had implemented the initiatives to some degree, not all have been fully or consistently put in place in all facilities. Our recommendations, and the detailed information about leading practices, address areas that can help the Department improve further. See the videocast here (YouTube). Read the two-page summary (pdf, 155 kb).
Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) in Washington (pdf, 2.4mb)
Summary: For the first full report in a long-term study of educational outcomes for students enrolled in ALE programs, performance auditors visited 10 programs associated with higher student outcomes and reviewed student data. Interviews with program staff and participants provided many insights into the way such programs serve students and the challenges they may face. Our review of student data, however, has been affected by continuing data quality problems, and we made recommendations to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction that could help improve data reliability. Learn more about the audit series and view the videocast here. Read the two-page summary (pdf, 87 kb)