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.
State Agency Information Systems: Sensitive Datasets and IT Security Resources
Overall, we identified most state agencies maintain computer systems which hold a variety of sensitive data or process payments that must be protected. Although the state is responsible for these sensitive data or payment systems, it lacks an enterprise-level approach to IT security. We also found that 17 of 45 agencies (38%) that process payments or maintain large amounts of highly sensitive data have not had an independent evaluation of their security measures in the past three years. In addition, we learned the state lacks a complete set of three-year IT Plans as required by law, and that agencies’ submitted plans have been made public despite containing sensitive security information.
We also reviewed IT security resources at 10 selected agencies. As part of that review, we found the reporting structures at seven agencies created a risk that important security issues may not be communicated to top management. Additionally, three agencies’ lead IT security positions were not filled with sufficiently qualified staff, and two agencies lacked enough staff to perform necessary IT security tasks. Lastly, IT security software products agencies reported using in five security categories appeared to be adequate except for one agency, which lacked software to back up its system databases and electronic files stored on its network since November 2013.
State Agency Information Systems: Reviewing Security Controls in Selected State Agencies (CY2013)
Agency staff continue to struggle with two key areas we have audited before: ensuring servers and workstations are patched to prevent vulnerabilities, and having an adequate plan in place to be able to continue operations in the event of an emergency. Overall, we reviewed seven IT security processes across eight agencies and saw that some agencies are more committed to IT security than others. While all agencies could make improvements to their processes to help ensure confidential information is protected, agencies most committed to IT security were the agencies more likely to have strong IT security processes in place protect their confidential information.
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.
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.
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 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.
Reviewing the Highway Patrol’s Motor Vehicle Program
This audit, conducted by McBride Lock & Associates under contract with Legislative Post Audit, found that the Patrol’s current practice of retiring motor vehicles at about 49,5000 miles is most cost-effective. However, to be cost-effective the Patrol must sell enough of its retired vehicles at or near the estimated resale value. That didn’t happen during fiscal year 1997. As a result, the Motor Vehicle Fund didn’t have enough moneys to pay for new vehicles, and the Patrol had to pay for some of those purchases from other funds. The Patrol’s fleet-management procedures generally continue to be effective and efficient. However, the Patrol needs to consider options for storing new vehicles before they’re placed into service because the owner of the Patrol’s storage space may sell that facility. Further, the data in the Patrol’s computerized vehicle information system wasn’t kept up to date.
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.
Compliance and Control Audit: Public Safety Agencies
The Department of Revenue’s procedures do not ensure that all motor fuels taxes due the State are paid. The Department also is not enforcing statutory reporting requirements for transporters of motor fuels, and cannot uncover fraud with the information and reports currently received from taxpayers and other involved parties. Staff resources committed to auditing and investigating compliance with motor fuels tax laws are not adequate to meet the statutory mandates placed on the department. The Highway Patrol and the Board of Agriculture provide periodic assistance in enforcing motor fuels tax laws, but these resources are not available to the Department on a consistent basis. The Department could improve its tax collection procedures by adopting some of the methods used by the federal government or other states.
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 Potential Overlap in State Agencies’ Responsibilities for Protecting Groundwater and Regulating Transportation
The Corporation Commission and the Department of Health and Environment do not duplicate each other's efforts on the same pollution problems, but inefficiencies and confusion result from having two agencies involved. Because each agency follows essentially the same steps to ensure that pollution is cleaned up, there is no benefit to the State from having both involved. Other oil- and gas-producing states have placed pollution clean up from oil and gas with one agency. Having several agencies involved with motor carrier regulation also has not resulted in significant overlap in agency responsibilities. However, motor carriers would be better served, and the State could potentially reduce some administrative inefficiencies, if there were a greater degree of coordination in the regulatory system. Although there are no easy solutions to the inherent conflict regulatory agencies face in balancing the interests of the public and the regulated industry, restrictions on staff involvement with a regulated industry could help improve staff independence. Other oil-producing states generally have not enacted such restriction on their staffs.
Compliance and Control Audit: Selected Public Safety Agencies
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 revenues the Department of Revenue reported for the stations in its cost-revenue analysis were accurate. The reported salaries and other operating expenses were estimates that were generally overstated in fiscal years 1984-1986, and understated in fiscal years 1987-1988. The State’s charges for permits do not vary, but the amount motor carriers pay for those permits when ordered from wire service companies or delivered to truck stops may differ greatly. However, there is no indication that those differing charges constitute unequal treatment.
More than 143,000 vehicle identification number inspections were done in fiscal year 1987. Inspection services are available in all counties, but in some the hours of operation are limited. Controls over the program appear to be adequate, but not all controls are being strictly adhered to. The fee charged for inspections generally covers the labor and overhead costs, and the $277,000 the State received from the inspections appeared to cover the estimated costs of administering the program.
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.
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.
Kansas Corporation Commission: Motor Carrier Regulatory Program
This sunset audit concludes that economic regulation over the trucking industry (covering such factors as entry into the industry, rates charged, and routes or services granted) should not be continued. The auditors found that certain aspects of economic regulation have limited competition without ensuring adequate service to some communities, and have allowed motor carriers to charge higher rates than they would charge in a competitive environment. The report also concludes that safety regulations over the trucking industry (covering standards for driver qualifications and work hours, and vehicle operations, equipment, and maintenance) should continue. Even with regulation of safety factors, Kansans can suffer injuries and other financial losses as a result of accidents caused by vehicle defects, driver fatigue, and drivers using alcohol. The report recommends that the Commission’s motor carrier regulatory program be abolished, and that safety regulation be continued under the jurisdiction of the Departments of Revenue and Transportation and the Highway Patrol.