The Office of Information Technology Services is responsible for providing information technology services including data processing and telecommunications services to state agencies. It is also the agency primarily responsible for working with the FirstNet Authority, a federal agency in charge of developing, building, and operating a nationwide, broadband network for first responders. Federal law gives states the option of selecting who builds the network in each state through an opt in or opt out process. Although the state could face some potential risks by opting in to FirstNet, it would have to overcome several significant challenges in order to successfully opt out. Opting in and allowing the FirstNet Authority to build and manage the state’s radio access network requires little effort, but does have some risks. Conversely, opting out would require the state to develop an alternative plan in about 6-9 months, which is a deadline the state is unlikely to meet. In addition, opting out would require Kansas to navigate an extensive approval process with multiple points of potential failure. Finally, opting out would require Kansas to develop a financing plan and negotiate with a third-party vendor to operate the state’s radio access network.
The Kansas 911 Act: Reviewing Implementation of the 2012 Act
The Kansas 911 Act requires this triennial audit of the 911 System. Bauknight Pietras & Stormer, P.A., under contract with Legislative Post Audit, conducted this audit. The audit is to determine: (1) the status of 911 service implementation; (2) whether the moneys received by PSAPs pursuant to this act are being used appropriately; and (3) whether the amount of moneys collected pursuant to this act is adequate.
The auditors determined that migration to NG911 is in progress. Some PSAPs joined or will join the state-hosted platform, some joined other platforms, some implemented standalone systems, and some are undecided. The auditors found adequate documentation to support 123 of 128 the expenditures tested. Of the five transactions that the auditors questioned, the 911 Coordinating Council had already determined that two were not allowable or not adequately supported and are in the process of recouping the funds. The three transactions determined to be exceptions included $1,458 in expenditures that were determined to be unallowable. Finally, the auditors determined that about half of the PSAPs that responded to a survey believed that current funding is adequate, while the other half did not. PSAP funding increased only marginally since the last audit three years ago. Costs are expected to rise, and PSAPs expressed concerns about adequate funding.
Seized and Forfeited Property: Evaluating Compliance with State Law and How Proceeds Are Tracked, Used, and Reported
The Kansas Standard Asset Seizure and Forfeiture Act (K.S.A. 60-4101 et seq.) gives law enforcement agencies in Kansas authority to seize money or property acquired in connection with certain illegal activities. As part of this audit we compared the seizure and forfeiture process in Kansas to four states (Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, and New Mexico) and the federal government. We found that Kansas is similar to the other states and the federal government in terms of what property can be seized by law enforcement agencies and under what conditions. However, we also found that requirements for forfeiting property, spending forfeiture proceeds, and reporting on forfeiture activity varied across all states we reviewed and the federal government. We also evaluated two state and four local law enforcement agencies’ processes for property seizures and forfeitures under the state’s Forfeiture Act. Although there were some exceptions, we found that all six law enforcement agencies adequately safeguarded seized property, appropriately liquidated forfeited property, and appropriately spent forfeiture proceeds. However, the six law enforcement agencies lacked important controls for tracking forfeiture proceeds. Additionally, although state law enforcement agencies complied with reporting requirements in state law, local agencies did not. As a result of this work, we also identified several other findings related to the seizure and forfeiture process. Overall, we found that agencies have broad discretion over how forfeiture proceeds can be used, which creates a risk agencies could begin to depend on them for operating funds. Specific to the law enforcement agencies we reviewed, we found that the Coffeyville Police Department’s arrangement with the Montgomery County Attorney to handle forfeiture cases creates a conflict of interest and that the Salina Police Department lacked important controls for money used for controlled drug buys. Finally, none of the law enforcement agencies we reviewed had complete and written policies and procedures for seized and forfeited property.
Larned State Hospital: Reviewing the Operations of the Sexual Predator Treatment Program
In 1994 the Legislature created an involuntary civil commitment program for sexual predators at Larned State Hospital. The goal of the Sexual Predator Treatment Program is to prevent sexual predators from reoffending after their release. The recommended practices for sexual predator programs emphasize individualized treatment. However, Kansas’ program generally did not adhere to the recommended practices, while other states programs we reviewed generally did. The Kansas’ program met many legal requirements, although there were several exceptions related to education and rehabilitation. In addition, residents may not have necessarily arrived at the reintegration facilities with the skills to be successful. Further, we found that program officials had not maintained appropriate records and documentation to effectively manage the program and policies and program guidance were outdated and not adhered to. Until recently, KDADS had not filed annual reports with the legislature as required by statute.
Unless changes are made, the Sexual Predator Treatment Program will exceed capacity at Larned in the next few years and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. We evaluated the impact of six different options to potentially reduce the program’s resident population.
• Treat low-risk residents in a community setting, which would reduce the resident population at Larned State Hospital and reduce program costs.
• Treat medically infirm residents in a secured nursing facility, which would reduce the resident population at Larned but would not significantly affect program costs.
• Treat residents on the “parallel track” in a separate secured facility, which would reduce the resident population at the Larned facility, but potentially increase costs.
• Expand the number of reintegration slots at Osawatomie and Parsons State Hospitals from 16 to 32, which would not reduce the resident population at Larned.
• Limit the time a resident can occupy a slot in a reintegration facility, which would not significantly reduce the resident population at Larned.
• Begin sexual predator treatment before the offender is released from prison, which would not significantly impact resident population and could increase costs.
Finally, we found that statutory housing restrictions make it difficult for residents to leave the program.
Foster Care Decisions: Reviewing Decisions To Remove Children from Their Homes
The Department for Children and Families (formerly SRS) serves about 5,200 children a day through foster care. Based on complaints made by foster care families, legislators wanted an independent review of several cases to determine if state officials acted appropriately. For the cases we reviewed, department, law enforcement and court officials had sufficient and convincing reasons for removing children from their parents and not reuniting them. Although our conclusions are based solely on our review of nine cases and cannot be projected to the foster care system as a whole, they are consistent with the findings of a recent internal audit conducted by the department. Although families alleged their cases were mishandled, the allegations we could evaluate were contradicted by the evidence we reviewed, and did not adversely affect case outcomes. In addition, family members consistently expressed concerns about the foster care program for several reasons. Sometimes, parents may not have fully understood all the aspects of their child’s case and therefore felt like they had been treated unfairly. Also, parents and relatives often disagreed with key decisions affecting where their child was placed. Lastly, parents’ actions or personal circumstances can further delay or prevent reunification with their children.
Homeland Security: Reviewing Contracts To Provide Equipment Under the Homeland Security Grant Program (limited-scope audit)
When federal homeland security grant moneys became available in July 2002, the Highway Patrol, as grant administrator, required counties to buy grant-funded equipment through an existing, competitively bid State contract with Fisher Scientific. That April 2001 contract was for laboratory supplies and equipment, but Patrol officials concluded the contract was broad enough to supply the types of equipment authorized to be bought with homeland security grants. From 2002 to 2004, the scope and nature of purchases under the contract changed significantly. Purchases grew from about $4 million to more $20 million a year, and the equipment being purchased included communications systems and response trucks and trailers. Because of these changes, and complaints from Kansas vendors, the State renegotiated the contract in 2004 to obtain volume discounts. The contract was then renewed in 2005 using the first of two one-year extensions. A third-party vendor system instituted after the 2004 renegotiations allows counties to select the vendor they want to buy equipment from. However, those purchases still must flow through Fisher’s web-based purchasing system, and Fisher adds a 5%-12% fee depending on the price of the item. We estimated those fees may have amounted to nearly $1 million in calendar year 2005.
Kansas Fire Marshal: Reviewing the Funding and Administration of the Agency
The Fire Marshal’s Office receives less direct oversight than most Kansas agencies and most fire safety agencies in other states. While agency officials expressed concerns about being under a board or commission, the issues they raised didn’t appear to be unique and confront most agencies in Kansas. The Office conducts timely and thorough investigations into the causes of fires, but there were numerous problems with inspections, including not conducting all the annual inspections required by law, notifying facilities about their inspections in advance, not using a checklist during inspections, and failing to maintain complete documentation. The Fire Marshal’s Office also did a poor job of overseeing the handling of complaints, and its enforcement efforts against facilities that don’t correct violations were inadequate as well. Reorganization of the Office in 2003 resulted in a top-heavy management structure and polarized its staff, and the Office’s controls over computer passwords were weak. Over time, the levy on fire insurance premiums that is used to fund the Fire Marshal’s Office generated far more money each year than the agency needed, resulting in large balances in its fee fund by the end of fiscal year 2002. Since fiscal year 2003, the levy has been used to fund additional programs and large transfers have been made to the General Fund, reducing balances in the fee fund. Because of these actions, and because the growth in fire insurance premiums is expected to slow, the Fire Marshal’s share of levy proceeds may not cover its costs in 2004 and 2005, and the agency could have cash shortfalls in early 2006.
Reviewing the Hiring and Promotion Practices of the Public Safety Agencies: A K-GOAL Audit of the Adjutant General’s Office, Fire Marshal’s Office, Highway Patrol, and the KBI
Many public safety employees are dissatisfied with their agencies' hiring and promotion processes, and survey responses from all 4 agencies indicated the highest level of concern was with promotions. In all, 36 - 54% of survey respondents said their agencies' promotion processes weren't fair or objective. Our review of a random sample of hires and promotions from fiscal year 2003 and of a sample of complaints raised by employee surveys also found problems with agency hiring and promotion practices. For example, both the Fire Marshal's Office and the KBI used reallocation to promote some employees rather than filling positions through a competitive process. The Fire Marshal's Office, the Highway Patrol, and the KBI all hired or promoted some employees who didn't meet minimum job requirements Finally, the Adjutant General's Office, the Highway Patrol, and the KBI didn't have current position descriptions. Overall, the problems we saw generally were caused by agencies not following laws or their own policies, rather than a lack of policies. These problems may be compounded by the fact that the Division of Personnel Services has significantly curtailed its oversight of agency personnel practices.
The exact costs of fighting methamphetamine in Kansas are difficult to determine because no hard data are available. However, we estimate that various agencies spent at least $21 million in Kansas last year to combat meth. More than half that money comes from local sources, with most of it being used to fund salaries for local law enforcement and prosecution. In addition to the direct costs of enforcement, a number of indirect or social costs are associated with using and manufacturing meth, and although difficult to quantify, 3 out of 5 law enforcement officials responding to our survey told us that more than 10% of the crime committed in their jurisdiction is meth-related. Law enforcement agencies' failure to report all labs they find to the KBI could reduce the amount of grant funds Kansas receives to fight the meth problem. Despite the explosive growth in number of reported labs, the majority of law enforcement officials responding to our survey told us they though that moderate or substantial progress is being made against meth. In addition, although most officials told us it's too soon to measure the impact of the Chemical Control Act, we noted that delays in processing evidence through the KBI lab and lack of staff to follow up on reports required by the Act were among the things that weaken the law's effectiveness. Law enforcement officials cited more staff, greater public awareness, and training and equipment as things they thought would aid in meth enforcement efforts.
Seized Property in Kansas: Determining Whether Laws Governing the Sale of Property Are Being Followed, and How the Proceeds Are Spent
Under State law, Kansas law enforcement agencies can seize money or property used in the commission of certain crimes, such as drug offenses. If that money or property is subsequently forfeited, the law enforcement agency can keep, sell, or destroy it. The 6 agencies we reviewed during this audit properly disposed of forfeited property, whether they retained it for official use or sold it. However, several agencies didn't follow appropriate procedures in handling forfeiture moneys: 4 agencies commingled forfeiture moneys from different sources, 1 county sheriff's office improperly deposited forfeiture moneys into a local bank account, and another sheriff's office paid attorney fees with seized money that hadn't yet been forfeited. Despite these problems, all 6 agencies spent forfeiture money in accordance with State and federal guidelines. While forfeiture money isn't a major source of income for most law enforcement agencies, it did allow agencies to buy computers, vehicles, and other equipment to aid in law enforcement activities.
Reviewing the 911 Emergency Phone Systems in Kansas, Part II: Federal Mandates and Organizational Structure
The FCC has issued regulations that require wireless phone companies, under certain conditions, to provide Enhanced 911 service for wireless phone users, which would provide dispatchers at public safety answering points with the phone number and location of the wireless caller. No one has compiled any cost estimates for Kansas, so we couldn't determine what it might cost taxpayers to provide this service. However, the costs are expected to be very high, especially for developing and implementing the technology to identify the wireless caller's location and transmit that information to the dispatch centers. (The state of Washington estimates its total implementation cost to be $68 million over the next five years.) Other states that have developed a cost recovery system to pay for these expenses have chosen some type of surcharge on wireless phone users; most have opted for a uniform statewide tax. Kansas' current structure for providing 911 places control of the program with local units of government without any central oversight or advisory body. This structure may result in some inefficiencies and higher costs, particularly as each locality attempts to meet the new FCC requirements for wireless Enhanced 911. However, some barriers tend to limit consolidation possibilities in spite of the potential benefits they offer. The 911 centers in the counties we visited generally followed adequate business practices designed to prevent inefficiencies and higher costs in daily operations. Statutory language defining allowable expenses from 911 tax moneys isn't clear, and some counties are planning future expenditures with those moneys that may be beyond what the Legislature intended that money to be used for.
A K-GOAL Audit of the Department of Corrections, Part I: Assessing Staff Safety and Salary Issues
To deal with staff shortages, the prison facilities use relief staff, leave less-critical posts vacant (a plan called operational staffing), and rely on overtime. The medium- and minimum-security units at Lansing Correctional Facility are frequently operated at staffing levels that could compromise staff safety, and officials there often don't follow their operational staffing plan. In at least one case, an employee was seriously attacked while left alone because of staff shortages. Corrections officers have expressed general concerns about their safety. Other Kansas correctional facilities may be experiencing the same types of problems. Low salary levels have contributed to staffing shortages. Kansas corrections officer salaries were 11 % to 15% below salaries paid by other similar entities. Kansas also had one of the highest turnover rates in the five-state region over the past five years. A significant number of officers who've left the system cited low salaries as a reason for leaving, and many more say they've considered leaving for that reason. Inability to recruit staff to fill positions has worsened staff shortages, tripled overtime costs, and increased the burden on existing staff. Finally, although most officers say they have the type of communications equipment they need, and that it generally works, some specific problems mentioned include untimely equipment repair, some old and outdated equipment, and "dead spots" where communications signals won't penetrate.
Reviewing the 911 Emergency Phone Systems in Kansas, Part I: Identifying the Current Status
911 service is available in 100 counties and covers 98% of the State's population. The most common type of service is Enhanced 911—the format that gives the person answering the 911 call the caller's name, address, and telephone number. About one-fourth of the counties get a significant percentage of their 911 calls from cellular telephones. Residents of most counties are taxed at the maximum rate, and some counties carried over large balances of 911 tax revenues from 1998. However, officials in many counties told us they must build up a surplus before they can purchase new equipment. The 911 systems in 67 counties have been tested for computer problems associated with the Year 2000; officials in about half of those counties reported their systems were in compliance.
Local law enforcement agencies have had to wait anywhere from two weeks to more than five months for the KBI to complete lab test results on the evidence they submitted. The Firearms, Biology, and Latent Prints Sections experienced the longest delays and had the largest backlogs of unprocessed work. Local law enforcement officials told us that having to wait for test results caused several problems, including delayed court proceedings and the release of arrested suspects. Staffing vacancies and increases in the number of cases being submitted for testing seem to have contributed the most to these delays. The number of cases submitted has grown by about 25% since 1993, and in February 1999 the Bureau's lab was operating with about 25% of its authorized positions vacant. Bureau officials indicate they're having trouble keeping employees and filling some vacant positions, at least partly because salaries are too low. Staffing shortages also have caused the Bureau to get way behind in entering certain data into two databases that are used to help solve crimes.
Reviewing Issues Related to the Highway Patrol’s Staffing, Salaries, and Scheduling
With a few exceptions, the Patrol's salaries and benefits are comparable to those of other law enforcement agencies. One major exception is the overtime threshold—troopers must work 86 hours in a two-week period before receiving overtime, compared with 80 hours for other Patrol staff. The Patrol's scheduling practices are less favorable than those of other agencies, in particular the practice of changing shifts in mid-week. The Patrol has kept up its level of activity, and increased the number of services it renders to motorists, even with reductions in the number of road troopers. However, with more motorists driving more miles, the Patrol would need 93 additional troopers to meet its coverage goals. Although the Patrol is involved in several activities that don't tie directly to its basic traffic-related mission, those activities generally seem to be the most cost-effective way of providing services to local law enforcement agencies and other State agencies. We didn’t see any overt signs that nepotism was occurring; however, that possibility exists because of the number of related people working for the Patrol. Finally, there’s been a serious breakdown in the relationship between management and troopers which, if not resolved, could make it impossible for the Patrol to run smoothly.
Like most other states we contacted, the Kansas Corporation Commission has adopted a reactive approach to administering and enforcing the Kansas Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act. The Commission doesn’t have routine reporting requirements or other means to monitor whether utilities and excavators are meeting their responsibilities under the law. Users of the system indicated they were happy with the amount of oversight provided by the Commission, and indicated they thought the system was effective. Although line locators don’t have training requirements, from the information that’s available it appears that underground lines are damaged relatively infrequently. Two areas of the law could be amended to make the system even better: not allowing excavators to dig if the buried utility lines haven’t been marked, and making more utilities subject to one-call.
Examining the Statutory Requirements and Funding Sources for Background Investigations in Kansas
At least 25 new statutory provisions for records checks and background investigations have been enacted in the past decade. Most deal with the racing and gaming industries. These new provisions have had little impact on the number of criminal history records checks performed by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, but they’ve nearly quadrupled the number of background investigations performed by State agencies. About 29 more people work on records checks and background investigations than five years ago. Most State agencies that request a significant number of records checks or background investigations budget and pay for them—two notable exceptions are the Governor’s Office and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. As of March 1, 1998, more than 800 requests for background investigations were pending, and about 10,000 requests for criminal history records checks were backlogged. Other than a few optional background investigations which the Governor can request, there doesn’t appear to be much opportunity for scaling back records checks and background investigations.
Reviewing the Effectiveness of the Domestic Violence Laws in Kansas
A 1991 State law focuses on domestic violence as a crime, and requires law enforcement centers to report all incidents of domestic violence to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. For a variety of reasons, however, the Bureau’s statistics aren’t complete. Law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, and program directors reported that the number of domestic violence calls hasn’t changed since 1991. The number of arrests has risen since then, apparently because of the law’s mandatory arrest provision which has increased the courts’ involvement, and increased the likelihood that abusers will be referred to programs that might help them. People we spoke with pointed out that some judges aren’t adapting as well as others to the viewpoint that domestic violence is a crime, and suggested additional training to improve the situation. Program directors report that victims of domestic violence are faring better; however, because of the mandatory arrest requirement, some victims won’t call the police because they don’t want the offender arrested. People we talked with offered numerous recommendations and suggestions to help decrease or stop domestic violence in Kansas.
Reviewing the Operations of the Kansas Highway Patrol Motor Vehicle Program
The Highway Patrol generally appears to be operating its fleet in an efficient and effective manner. The Patrol acquires the proper type of vehicles, and given recent changes in the police package market those acquisitions are made at a reasonable cost. At this time, it seems that purchases of large numbers of vehicles at one time may be the only reasonable option. Amounts the Patrol receives from the resale of fleet vehicles are also reasonable. Although the Patrol’s current policy of replacing vehicles after they’ve been driven about 49,500 may not result in the lowest possible fleet costs, it’s preferable to the previous policy of replacing vehicles after 85,000 miles.
Reviewing Security and Management Issues at the Youth Center at Topeka
Officials in the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services have made strides in correcting the numerous, major deficiencies identified in our 1989 audit of the Youth Center at Topeka. However, many of those same issues remain as problems in 1994. The existence of a perimeter fence has significantly reduced the number of escapes from the Youth Center, but many other security weaknesses (including staffing shortages) continue to present risks of harm to the staff and students. The Youth Center has given violent offenders various kinds of off-campus passes, a practice that presents undue risks to the public. Our survey of Youth Center staff indicated little confidence in the upper management of the Center. Management officials need to correct problems with criminal record checks on new employees, evaluations of employees, and recordkeeping. We found the Department has not adequately managed a four-year federal grant to ensure that federal moneys were spent properly and that the grant’s objectives would be met. Finally, other states have tried various new programs for rehabilitating juvenile offenders, but their effectiveness has not yet been proven.
Reviewing the Regulatory Activities of the Emergency Medical Services Board
The audit shows that, although its licensing actions could lead to consolidation of ambulance territories, the Emergency Medical Services Board does not have formal policies for consulting with parties affected by its actions. The Board provides assistance to communities that request it, and the level of assistance provided to the City of Pittsburg was similar to what it provided to other communities. The Board appeared to have erred by not notifying or involving Crawford County officials when it signed an agreement with the City of Pittsburg requiring the City and County to take certain actions.
Reimbursement for Services Provided by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation
In fiscal year 1992, the Bureau provided record checks and laboratory services to local law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies at a cost to the State of about $2.2 million. Like other states, the Bureau has a policy of providing services to these agencies at no charge. The Bureau also provided about 120,000 record checks to non-criminal-justice agencies at a cost of about $650,000. Like other states, the Bureau charges a fee for these services. Because the Department of Health and Environment refuses to pay for its record checks, other agencies end up paying higher fees than necessary and the Bureau still does not collect enough money to fully recover its costs.
Reviewing the Fire Fighter Recognition Program Operated by the State Fire Marshal’s Office (100-hour audit)
The audit shows that while State law does not specifically address whether the State Fire Marshal could administer the Fire Fighter Recognition Program, it does not appear that the law would prohibit the Fire Marshal from administering the Program, as the Office is currently doing. The Fire Fighter Recognition Program has cost the State less than $500 to-date. Because the Fire Marshal’s role with the Recognition Program is relatively limited, it is not likely to incur substantially greater costs in the future. Finally, enrollments in the University of Kansas’ Fire Service Training courses have declined in recent years, but most of the declines occurred before the Recognition Program was developed. A number of factors, including a loss of federal funding, an increase in fees, and changes in certain certification requirements, contributed to the reduced enrollments.
Reviewing Fee-Funded Regulatory Agencies’ Programs for Impaired Licensees
Total expenditures for the programs we reviewed have more than tripled since 1988, primarily because of increases in programs, participants, and in staffing levels and salaries. The licensing boards generally did not have adequate controls to ensure that program funds were spent for the intended purposes. For nearly 80 percent of the cases we reviewed, we determined that the programs were effective. But a significant number of cases, particularly in the physicians’ program, lacked the documentation for us to determine whether they were effective. We found only six cases where we determined that program staff did not take appropriate action. Also, in a few cases, the licensing boards should have taken some action but did not. Finally, the programs that appeared most cost-effective made heavy use of volunteers and did not charge the licensing boards for administrative expenses.
Reviewing the Effectiveness of the Capitol Area Security Patrol
Although relatively few State employees experienced security-related problems during the past year, we found that there were security weaknesses at the buildings included in this audit. Some of the weaknesses were within the Security Patrol’s control and others were not. The Security Patrol did not have enough staff to carry out its contractual responsibilities, or to provide the level of security coverage wanted by some State employees and officials. In several areas the Security Patrol did not have written policies and procedures that seemed necessary to ensure that adequate security was provided. Finally, we noted that the State Capitol and the Landon and Docking State Office Buildings were potentially unsafe, either because doors were locked after hours or because of inadequate fire alarm and detection systems.
Reviewing How the State Supervises Potentially Violent Mental Patients at Topeka State Hospital
The audit found Hospital and Department officials thought that closing the Awl Unit would allow them to reduce patient populations and staff, accommodate budget cuts, and maintain the level of patient care needed to keep the Hospital's federal certification and funding. In fact, anticipated reductions in patient population never materialized because few Awl patients were transferred to Larned State Hospital as originally intended. Instead, most Awl patients were placed in other wards at Topeka State Hospital according to a transfer list prepared by clinical staff. Even though the introduction of these potentially dangerous patients into other wards represented an increased level of risk to Hospital staff and patients, Hospital officials took no immediate actions to lessen that risk. After the murder of a Hospital employee in February 1992, officials sought and received funding for additional security guards, lighting, and equipment. However, critical issues of low staffing, inconsistent compliance with security-related procedures, and an inability to segregate dangerous patients remain to be addressed.
Reviewing Procedures and Staffing for Child Abuse Cases in Douglas County (100-hour audit)
Child abuse and neglect cases handled by the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services' Douglas County office have increased in recent years, but with the addition of several new social worker positions, individual caseloads have generally remained stable or declined. Douglas County officials told us that the social worker and a supervisor would make the initial decision about removing a child from home, based on a factors such as the child's safety and the parents' ability to protect and care for the child. When families are at-risk of abusing or neglecting their children, social workers in Douglas County assess the specific factors (such as a parent's substance abuse or inappropriate disciplinary methods) that may be contributing to mistreatment of a child, then try to provide services that will help the family address its problems. We did not find any indication that the procedures in place in Douglas County were in conflict with the Department's procedures or with State law.
Highway Patrol’s Oversight of Vehicle Identification Number Inspections
The Highway Patrol has not established adequate procedures for selecting private contractors to do vehicle inspections, and the eligibility criteria it uses to appoint or replace private contractors are not well defined. The Patrol also has not established formal procedures to be followed in conducting an inspection, or adequately monitored the performance of private contractors doing the inspections. Most private contractors we visited did not perform all the steps Patrol officials told us were necessary to complete a vehicle inspection. Despite the lack of controls, we did not find that private designees were overcharging the public or requiring unnecessary inspections. Finally, we found that the Patrol has not implemented recommendations made during the last audit of the inspection program.
The Department of Health and Environment’s regulatory procedures comply with federal and State legal requirements, but several aspects of the program are not being managed adequately. The State does not have an established program to minimize production of hazardous waste, but the Department is using a federal grant to develop one. Kansas has adopted the federal requirements for monitoring the movement of hazardous waste, and the system appears to be working as intended. However, the Department has not had adequate procedures for tracking and resolving discrepancies in hazardous waste shipments.
In general, the audit showed that the Youth Center at Topeka is not equipped to provide the level of security needed for the individuals being placed there. The lack of a fence around the campus as well as weaknesses in the physical facilities and staffing levels may have allowed students to escape rather easily. Also, Youth Center officials do not take into account all available information such as a student’s runaway history when determining the level of supervision a student needs. More importantly, a lack of strong management at the facility has created an atmosphere where poor performance is tolerated, staff morale is low, and overall security is not as strong as it should be.
The Highway Patrol could save $34,000 a year in operating costs if all non-patrol staff drove fuel-efficient, mid-size cars without police packages. If such cars become available with police packages, the Patrol could save an additional $144,000 a year by purchasing them for its road patrol staff. Additional cost-saving measures include better monitoring of maintenance expenditures, driving vehicles more miles before replacing them, and pooling vehicles in central locations.
Some law enforcement officers have not complied with statutory training requirements, opening their departments to large potential liabilities. Most agencies are pleased with the content and quality of training offered. But a shortage of funds may keep the Training Center from meeting its statutory obligations, and its physical facilities are deteriorating.
Kansas’ patrol coverage has declined since 1980, and it is generally lower than in other states. Some of the reasons why include fewer troopers dedicated to road patrol, a recent federal court ruling, and requests for the State to patrol interstates and highways within city limits. The Highway Patrol must decide what highways it will patrol and what level of coverage it will provide before it can assess staffing needs.
Regulation of hazardous materials transportation in Kansas has serious gaps. The most serious failing is a lack of adequate inspections. In their absence, insufficient data are collected to estimate the number and volume of shipments in the State. Other problems relate to training deficiencies, the designation of on-scene commanders at accidents, and accident reporting. Efforts are under way to improve the regularty program: the audit makes several additional recommendations.
Driving Under the Influence (D.U.I.): A Review of Prosecutions Under the New Kansas Law
Most penalities imposed for convictions of driving under the influence appear to comply with the new laws passed by the 1982 Legislature. Sentencing is mostly uniform, but local attitudes are resulting in a varied use of diversion programs. Several smaller administrative problems or statutory inconsistencies should be corrected, but they do not seem to hamper the overall effectiveness of the current system.
Department of Health and Environment: Food Service Regulatory Program
The auditors found that State inspectors didn’t identify and report as many violations of food service regulations as federal inspectors did when they evaluated the State’s food service regulatory program in 1978, even though regulations at both levels are identical. From a sample of 100 establishments, federal inspectors found 31 “inadequate” restaurants, indicating that the establishments posed significant health risks and should be closed. State inspectors put none of the 100 establishmens in that category. In the area of enforcement, auditors found that one-half of the violations noted during inspections hadn’t been corrected by the next inspection six months to a year later. To improve inspection and enforcement, the audit includes several recommendations addressing areas such as training, supervision, certification, and work-load management.