Between fiscal years 1983 and 1992, expenditures from the Fund more than quadrupled to nearly $33 million. The Fund’s expenditures increased primarily because more claims were opened than closed each year, creating an ever-growing pool of active claims for which expenses are being incurred. In addition, medical costs have skyrocketed, and amounts that can be paid in compensation for lost wages have increased over the years. Because of legislative actions and judicial decisions, Kansas currently has one of the most liberal second-injury funds of all the states we contacted. Limiting the Fund’s coverage would not reduce workers’ compensation costs. It would simply shift those costs from the Fund back to the insurance companies and employers. Other states have implemented a number of alternatives to control workers’ compensation costs, but Kansas does not have the basic management information needed to take similar measures. Although administrative costs have increased more slowly than benefit-related costs, the Department could do more to control attorney costs.
Reviewing State Regulation of Bankers Thrift and Loan Company
Consumer Credit Commissioners over the past decade failed to aggressively enforce rules and regulations put in place to protect the investing public. Commissioners allowed known problems to go uncorrected, and allowed investment certificate companies to operate when their delinquent loans exceeded allowable levels. The Commissioner’s Office allowed $1 million from the industry’s Guaranty Fund to be used to buy bad loans from one of the companies, to facilitate a merger of the last three investment certificate companies in the State. Although this was a legal use of the money, it depleted the Fund and severely reduced the amount of protection provided for investors. Bankers Thrift filed for bankruptcy in June 1991, leaving investors without access to about $9 million they had invested. According to the current Commissioner, investors will eventually receive about 90 percent of their money after all Bankers Thrift assets are liquidated.
Examining the Effectiveness of the Kan Work Program
Clients in the KanWork Program got more jobs and earned more money than clients who were not participating in the Program, but still did not earn enough to stay off welfare. Over the two-year period we reviewed, KanWork did not appear to make a significant difference in the number of people getting off welfare. However, the Program may need to be viewed over a longer time period to show results. Coordination between the Departments of Social and Rehabilitation Services and Human Resources staff who work with clients is good, but coordination and cooperation between upper-level management of the agencies is poor. The KanWork Program generally conforms to all major federal regulations and State laws. However, Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services staff have not followed all procedures for operating the Program.
Exploring Options for Consolidating School Districts: An Overview
In general, the audit showed that Kansas had more school districts, and fewer students in those districts, than most other states. Average school and class sizes in Kansas also were smaller, which has resulted in Kansas having more teachers and staff per student than other states. Despite these factors, Kansas' spending per student was slightly less than the national median, mainly because Kansas' average teacher salary was below the median. Within Kansas' 304 school districts, enrollment heavily influenced operating expenditures per student, which ranged from $2,900 to $11,400 in 1990-91. As a rule, smaller school districts have much higher expenditures per student than larger districts, primarily because they have much smaller classes and more teachers per student. Unless schools are closed, average class sizes are increased, and teaching staff are reduced, consolidating school districts in Kansas is not likely to result in significant savings.
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.
NHUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, KANSAS BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, BICENTENNIAL COMMISSION OF THE U.S. CONSTITUTION, BOARD OF INDIGENTS' DEFENSE SERVICES, COMMISSION ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS
Reviewing the Capacity and Use of the State’s Mainframe Computers
Four of the nine mainframes reviewed were operating at or near capacity. The five remaining computers, which generally were in the early to middle years of their life expectancy, appeared underused at this time. In those cases, agency officials generally indicated that planned applications would increase mainframe use in the future or that federal funding used to acquire and operate their computers limited the possible uses. Finally, available data storage for several main frames was full or nearly full, and the affected agencies may need to take some action to acquire more storage capacity soon.
Reviewing State-Funded Medical Scholarships in Kansas
Since the inception of the Kansas Medical Scholarship Program, requirements have become more restrictive regarding designated areas of practice, types of medical specialties, and repayment provisions. In 1986, the emphasis of the Program changed from distributing physicians to underserved areas to placing primary-care physicians into rural areas. Since 1978, more than $36 million in medical scholarships has been awarded to 1,476 students. Approximately 46 percent of those recipients have fulfilled their service obligations. Many graduates are fulfilling their obligations under provisions of the law that allow them to practice in urban areas. The Program appears to be achieving the goals of retaining more Medical Center graduates in Kansas and distributing more doctors to underserved areas. In future years, because fewer than 35 new scholarships are being awarded annually, significantly fewer doctors will be distributed to underserved or rural areas as a result of the Program.
Reviewing the Kansas Lottery’s Plans for Acquiring New Computer Software and Hardware (100-hour audit)
The Lottery prepared a number of reports regarding its request for new computer software and hardware; however, officials could produce very little documentation to support the planning and analyses that may have been done to prepare those reports. Most of the formal systematic review we saw of the Lottery’s current operations and its computing needs was done by Andersen Consulting and was specific to Andersen’s own ACCLAIMS software package. Finally, we found that the Lottery did not adequately consider variables that could affect costs, schedules, and probable benefits of the proposed system before it submitted its fiscal year 1993 budget request.
Reviewing Staffing in the Division of Property Valuation (100-hour audit)
The Division currently employs 73 people, two-thirds of whom are classified as property appraisers. In both 1988 and 1992, nearly all employees met the minimum qualifications for their jobs. Because of a position reallocation, the one employee who did not meet minimum qualifications in 1992 was not required to do so. Most of the Division's staff provide technical assistance and support to counties, but some staff are responsible for determining values for motor carriers and utilities. In Cherokee County, as in other counties, the Division's staff provides supervision of the reappraisal effort, but is not responsible for determining countywide property values.
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.
Kansas Public Employees Retirement System: Examining the Investment in the Ward Parkway Shopping Center
In December 1987, O’Connor Realty Advisors acquired 49 percent ownership in the Ward Parkway Shopping Center for the Retirement System for slightly more than $28 million in cash, plus an existing $16 million mortgage. The investment was made after O’Connor submitted the highest bid to refinance the Shopping Center; O’Connor did not obtain an independent appraisal of the Shopping Center before making the investment, but three other bids were within $1.5 million of the O’Connor bid. Through January 1992, O’Connor committed the Retirement System to an additional $31 million, primarily to remodel and redevelop the Center. The remodeling project appears to be about $5.8 million over budget, in part because major costs were not included in the original plan. Except for some payments to a law firm and a title company, moneys from this investment did not go directly to individuals or firms who were directly connected with other Retirement System investments. However, some of the funds from the initial investment were used to pay off a loan from a Frank Morgan bank. Through the end of 1991, the Retirement System has paid two subsidiaries of J.W. O’Connor and Associates nearly $3 million in fees associated with the Ward Parkway investment.
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 Department of Administration did not determine what it needed before it bought ready-made software for the State's new centralized accounting, personnel/payroll, and purchasing systems. As a result, it underestimated the software modifications that would be needed or called for, and overestimated the amount of work its own staff could do. When in-house infighting broke out over the need to modify those software packages, the Department was unable to stop it. The Department also did not require the consulting firm to provide a finished product. The procurement negotiating process was not of benefit in this case because the Department did not follow the steps required by that process. Options for completing the System include finishing the new personnel/payroll system or fixing the problems with the current system. Before any course of action is chosen, a full needs assessment must be done. In the future, the State needs to make one person or agency responsible for ensuring that agencies conduct proper planning, provide strong project management, and commit sufficient resources to major computer projects.