2017


Oregon Health Authority – We conducted this audit to determine if two critical automated computer programs managed by the Oregon Health Authority accurately verify Medicaid client eligibility and accurately issue payments to healthcare providers. If these programs do not function properly, clients may inappropriately receive, or be denied, Medicaid benefits.  If agency leadership implements more effective monitoring of caseworker eligibility overrides and improves manual input accuracy, the state will better comply with eligibility requirements and increase accuracy of payments. Inaction will allow overrides and manual input errors to continue causing inappropriate payments to providers.

Oregon Department of Transportation – The purpose of this audit was to determine if ODOT is effectively monitoring project changes to prevent unwarranted costs.  Because unbalanced bidding can lead to increased project costs, we examined the agency’s efforts to monitor project changes related to those bids. These bids could impact ODOT project costs for state contracts.  If agency leadership decides to implement enhanced tracking and scrutinize unbalanced bidding, the state could potentially realize significant savings by avoiding project cost increases. Inaction will continue the status quo of incomplete data that prevents ODOT from evaluating unbalanced bidding that can lead to project cost increases.

2016


Business Oregon – Business Oregon, the state’s primary economic development agency, can strengthen its evaluation of incentives and loans given to private businesses, focusing on performance outcomes such as jobs created and retained, wages, and return on investment.  Business Oregon can also help improve the transparency of individual business awards by better reporting information about them to the public and policy makers.  These improvements would help the agency, policy makers, and the public ensure that business incentives and loans are as strategic, cost effective and productive as possible, important given high statewide competition for Lottery and General Fund dollars

Oregon Water Resources Department – Oregon is facing growing pressures and concerns related to its water supply. The Water Resources Department (WRD), charged with managing the state’s water resources, could better balance water rights issuance and management with actions to sustain current and future water needs. The agency can also enhance its focus on groundwater protection, data collection and analysis, and workload and staffing. A long-term agency plan would help WRD strategically focus and prioritize the agency’s efforts and align them with available resources.

Oregon Department of Education – The Oregon Department of Education oversees the education of over 560,000 students in Oregon’s public K-12 education system. The annual distribution of the State School Fund of $3 billion and federal funding of about $750 million help fund Oregon’s public education.  The department’s computer systems reasonably ensure the integrity of data used to distribute the State School Fund and appropriately process school district claims for federal funding.  However, improvements are needed to provide better security for computer systems and student data, manage changes to computer systems, and ensure systems can be restored in the event of a disaster.

Oregon Housing and Community Services – Oregon is in a housing crisis—housing costs are high, vacancy rates are low, and low-income Oregonians struggle to find affordable housing.  Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) is charged with being the state’s leader in housing, but challenges are hindering its progress in helping to address the affordable housing crisis.  We found OHCS should improve its affordable housing preservation efforts, strategic planning, and data management.  In addition, OHCS should address organizational challenges, which include poor communication, inconsistent staffing levels, and inadequate policies and procedures.

Office of the State Chief Information Officer – Most state agencies we reviewed do not have adequate security plans, processes, or staffing to carry out fundamental security functions that protect their information systems and data. The Office of the State Chief Information Officer is responsible for ensuring agencies carry out these critical functions, but has not yet provided sufficient standards and oversight to help agencies achieve appropriate information technology security. In September 2016, the Governor signed an executive order to unify cyber security in Oregon, but much work and cooperation remains to fulfill the requirements of the executive order and improve statewide security.

Oregon Department of Agriculture – The Oregon Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) Food Safety Program is struggling with a backlog of establishments needing inspection.  This backlog was caused by an increase in the number of licensed businesses and complexity of business practices, and an inspection staff busy with other duties.  By implementing stronger management practices, making better use of data, and more strategically deploying its resources, the program can reduce its backlog of inspections, better achieve its mission of preventing the spread of foodborne illness, and prepare for more regulatory challenges in the near future.

Department of Geology and Mineral Industries – The Department of Geology and Mineral Industries encountered challenges that contributed to serious financial reporting and cash flow issues. In 2016, new department management started to make improvements and has implemented some financial controls, but further improvement is needed.

DHS Employment Survey  –  In April 2016, we conducted a survey of Department of Human Services (DHS) employees to help DHS management identify work environment factors positively or negatively affecting employee engagement.  Survey respondents generally reported they know the agency’s mission vision, and goals and are proud to work there.  But their responses also highlighted areas within DHS that need improvement.  Addressing these issues will help DHS improve employee engagement and better achieve the agency’s mission, vision and values.

Oregon Department of Education — This audit responds to House Bill 2713 (2015) to review the impacts of the statewide summative assessment on Oregon’s public schools. While many schools faced challenges in the first year of administering the new Smarter Balanced test, including adjusting to the demands on staff and school resources, some reported fewer challenges in the second year. Concerns about the test include certain student populations possibly experiencing more negative impacts, and whether Smarter Balanced is a comprehensive assessment system.

Oregon Department of Forestry — Three consecutive severe fire seasons have forced the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) to spend more time fighting fires and less time on its other programs. Recent fires have also strained ODF personnel. ODF needs to consider long-term workforce planning, development of a more effective business improvement process, better evaluation of wildfire prevention and detection measures, and increased mitigation efforts.

Oregon Youth Authority –Transition services for female youth in state custody lag behind those available to males.  The Oregon Youth Authority opened a transition pilot program for female youth, but funding has only been allocated through mid-2017. OYA and counties show an interest in improved program reporting, but county program reporting is still inconsistent and incomplete.

Teacher Standards and Practices Commission — Despite recent service improvements, the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission needs to increase accountability and boost agency performance to respond to backlogs in issuing licenses, investigating complaints against educators, and responding to educator questions.

Department of Fish and WildlifeToday’s challenging environment and recurring budget shortfalls require ODFW to focus efforts by establishing a comprehensive management strategy.

 

2015


Oregon Employment Department — OED computer programs correctly process most unemployment insurance claims and employer tax returns, but these outdated computer programs should be replaced. Additional work is also needed to improve security, processes for changing computer code, and disaster recovery capability.

Forensic Services Division — The growing demand across the state for the division’s laboratory testing services, along with some inefficient work procedures, has created a testing kit backlog.

Public Records Requests — Oregon state agencies respond well to most public records requests for routine information, but the infrequent complex requests produce challenges.

Statewide Collections Debts owed to the State have almost doubled since 2008, to nearly $3.2 billion, and the state needs a sustained focus to improve collections.

Business Energy Tax Credits The program should be reassessed to address concerns about transfer discounts, documentation, and inconsistent communications about allowable discounts.

Oregon State Hospital The new facility and treatment efforts have improved safety and patient care, but further steps are needed.

Oregon State Lottery Lottery should seek legislation to define ‘casino’ to ensure that retailers with video gambling machines comply with the Constitution’s prohibition against casinos.

State Data Center Longstanding security weaknesses at the State Data Center put confidential information at risk.  The Governor, Legislature, and Chief Information Officer have taken the first steps to fix these problems, but the solutions will take time, resources, and cooperation from state agencies.

Business Energy Tax Credits The program should be reassessed due to concerns about transfer discounts, documentation, and inconsistent communications about allowable discounts.

Community Colleges: Student Completion Rates Community College completion rates in Oregon are only about 24%. Our audit offered opportunities to address barriers to completions.

Financial Condition: State of Oregon Analysis of key financial indicators to identify trends over a ten-year period. The report charted revenues, expenditures, liabilities, and economic/demographic data.

Oregon ChallengesMultiple audits point to three key issues for Oregon to make economic progress: education, infrastructure, and finance systems.

Statewide Audit Summary – We found a lower dollar amount of errors in agency financial reporting with improvements in some agencies, and we still found weaknesses in the state’s administration of billions of dollars in major federal programs.

Financial Condition: Fish and Wildlife – Growing costs and long-term declining revenues produces a recurring cash flow problem for ODFW.

Education CapstoneFive issues are key to the success of students in Oregon: education governance; use of data, support services, child care, and funding.

IT Project Management – Most agencies are not adequately staffed to handle these complex projects. We also found that the Department of Administrative Services has made strides towards holding agencies accountable, but risks of failure will continue.

PERS Pension ‘Spiking’– Among the 14,000 retirees from 2010-2013, pension inflation by participants appears isolated with little effect on the fiscal health of Oregon’s Public Employee Retirement System.

 

2014


TriMet – A first ever top-to-bottom review of the regional transit agency regarding key operational, financial, and accountability issues

Emergency Management – To address organizational problems, the new managers need to improve internal communications, update expectations for employees, and improve policies and work processes.

Health Regulatory Boards – No significant issues arose in our review of the 17 boards that license health professionals and handle complaints against them.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – During the Great Recession, Oregon prioritized cash payments to the poorest families, but as the economy recovers, the state could do more to help move clients toward jobs and self-sufficiency.

Highways workforce planning – ODOT needs to sustain its expertise as it copes with tightening budgets, looming capital needs, and a third of its workforce soon to retire.

Veterans Affairs Review – New managers are developing and initiating plans to address key veterans services. Due to these efforts, we did not complete an audit and only offer some additional considerations.

Student Achievement Gaps – Oregon 8th graders lag an average of one or two years behind others if they are economically disadvantaged, Hispanic, black, and Native American. We described some promising practices in Oregon schools that experienced improvements.

2014 Oregon Counties Financial Condition – Some Oregon counties are slow to recover from the recession and adapt to the loss of federal timber funds. This biennial report uses financial indicators to identify counties warranting attention.

Keeping the State of Oregon Accountable – Every year we identify problems with Oregon’s financial reporting and compliance with federal rules. We found over $1 billion in corrections were needed and 36 findings of weak internal controls in FY2013.

Childcare Affordability and New Rules – New federal rules could increase child safety but reduce the number of providers and make childcare even more difficult to afford.

Health Insurance Rate-setting Review – Oregon’s rate review process is performed by skilled staff and designed to be transparent and engage consumers. Our preliminary review did not identify deficiencies or weaknesses sufficient to conduct an audit.

OR-Kids Financial System – Computer system issues and internal control weaknesses resulted in about $35 million in funding errors, later corrected by the agency.

 

2013


Summary of the Statewide Single Audit – Our financial audit of the State for the 2012 fiscal year, covering $30.8 billion in total assets and $22.8 billion in total expenses, including our compliance audits of federally-funded programs.

Report of Audit Recommendations We surveyed agencies on their progress implementing each of our recommendations and report the results. About 86% of our recommendations had been implemented or in the process of being implemented.

Increasing the number of adults with GEDs – Steps are needed to address the 340,000 adult Oregonians without a high school diploma or equivalent. Better sharing of information with community colleges, more marketing, and student support could help build a better Oregon workforce.

Health and Human Services Caseload Forecasting: Ways to increase confidence – Forecasts of client caseloads were generally accurate, but more reporting about methods and precision, and independence from these agencies could increase confidence in the results.

2012 Oregon Financial Condition – The biennial analysis of key financial indicators to identify trends over a ten-year period. The report charted revenues, expenditures, liabilities, and economic/demographic data.

Forestry Information Technology –Forestry needs better planning to optimize its computer systems, and to better organize important functions such as planning, development, maintenance, security and quality assurance.

Cost of a college degree – Universities can better manage their costs and student outcomes, but a clear governance structure is also needed for accountability.

Public Assistance – Better intake procedures could have prevented some ineligible public assistance recipients, but we also found less needy recipients allowed by Oregon’s rules.

Housing Services – The agency should examined how its 49 programs duplicate or overlap, or fragmented services with 71 programs provided by other state agencies. We recommend the department examine the costs and benefits of addressing these situations.

Treating Highest Risk Offenders – Substance abuse treatment for all the highest-risk offenders released from prison could have avoided about $21.6 million of costs to Oregonians from 2008 to 2011. However, new Medicaid eligibility rules can help make up for the lack of county funding for these services.

Teacher Preparation and Professional Development – Student teaching should be strengthened, professional development expanded, and licensing requirements raised for new teachers.

University of Oregon Payroll Practices: UO leadership should communicate general expectations and establish better controls over compensation, vacation time, and overtime.

Oregon Youth Authority: We questioned about $24,000 of provider billings for Community Reintegration Services over a seven-month period.

Oregon Travel Experience: We found that Highway Funds were spent appropriately and progress had been made on our prior recommendations

Oregon Department of Transportation: The financial accounting computer system is reliable, but some controls need strengthening

Oregon State Lottery: New financial software provides reliable information for business and accounting functions

Oregon Department of Revenue: The Property Tax Deferral Program generally complied with program requirements, and appropriately reported its finances.

Automating Weight-Mile Tax Collections Can Benefit the State and TruckersOur review of the EROADS device found that it accurately and securely captures Oregon weight-mile tax information.

 

2012


Department of State Lands: Improve Accounting of Common School Fund About $75.7 million in Fund principal was inappropriately distributed to schools from 2001-2007. In addition, financial reports included the increasing balance of unclaimed property, an unrelated fund which the state does not own.

Contracting Practices – A statewide audit found that agencies were seeking competitive bids and were not improperly hiring former employees.

Department of Administrative Services: State Data Center Computer Controls ReviewData security is critical for sensitive state information, and we found that many committees were slowing the decisions to solve urgent problems.

Strategies to Better Address Federal Level of Effort RequirementsUnclear federal requirements and inadequate federal guidance increase the difficulty of state agencies that must comply with this funding requirement.

Child Protective ServicesGuidance on work priorities, assistance with administrative tasks, and performance evaluations could help caseworkers reunite more children with their families.

School energy savingsSchool districts could have realized about $40 million in additional energy and 70% utility cost savings by better using energy surcharge funds.

Children’s Mental Health: Ensuring Access and Sustaining ServicesThe Department of Human Services has increased mental health care access for children but could better track and ensure continuity of services, and may be able to increase participation of certain populations.

Financial Condition of Oregon CountiesIdentified eight counties that should be monitored for financial condition, based upon ten indicators, and gathered laws of other states for responding to fiscally troubled local governments

Community Colleges/Workforce DevelopmentSome future workforce needs are not being addressed by community colleges. Better coordination of efforts among several agencies is needed.

Boards and Commissions: Common Risks, Needed Oversight, and Steps to Manage Them Despite periodic efforts, over 250 boards have been created in Oregon, and they are more susceptible to errors, fraud or abuse. We make recommendations to reduce the proliferation of boards and their risks.

Faster Progress Needed on Data Center Security Issues The governance structure is not effective for managing security in a timely manner. As a result significant security weaknesses we identified in earlier audits continue to exist.

Prison Personnel Costs – Corrections managed its prison staffing and overtime to minimize costs, and the current post staffing is appropriate for the facilities we examined.

Employment IT – The computer systems provided accurate and timely payment of unemployment benefits, but the department could improve handling of overpayments.

Oregon Travel Experience – A Legislative request, this audit found that the board spent road funds appropriately but, noting risks in the organization and its procedures, we recommend additional transparency and policies.

More Timely and Consistent Services for Minority, Women and Emerging Small BusinessesThe office can better manage its workload in a number of ways, provide more direction and support to staff to ensure equitable treatment of applicants, simplify the application for businesses, and better track and use performance information.

 

2011


Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board – OWEB’s partnership with community-based groups and agencies is successfully addressing the large, complex task of restoring Oregon’s watersheds. OWEB should improve its strategies and monitoring efforts.

Oregon Financial Condition – Analysis of key financial indicators to identify trends over a nine-year period. The report charted revenues, expenditures, liabilities, and economic/demographic data.

Willamette Education Service District follow-up – the WESD Board, Superintendent and management have made significant efforts to improve management and governance practices.

University Faculty Workload With college degrees becoming less affordable, we reviewed how well universities managed faculty workload, but concluded that they gathered insufficient data to judge efficiency.

Department of Environmental Quality – DEQ could reduce annual General Fund costs by $700,000 if it upgraded its laboratory information system, developed work measurement and cost accounting systems, and served external customers.

MMIS –Oregon’s new Medicaid Management Information System, for processing Medicaid payments, operates as intended. It adequately checks over payment calculations, the data is protected, and programming changes are well-managed.

Department of Energy – Department management requested this audit which identified several areas where the Department could improve, including contractor selection, electronic information security, and others.

Department of RevenueFollow-upThe audit found 66,000 non-filers who owed $109 million in 2007 personal income taxes. The Department has taken action on the recommendations, but much work remains before they are fully implemented.

Commission for the Blind – Follow-up – A series of audits dating back 16 years found a pattern of fiscal irresponsibility. This follow-up review found some improvement, but less than was recently reported by management to the Legislature or the Audits Division.

 

2010


Victim Restitution – The 2003 Legislature passed laws to enhance victim restitution. Our audit concluded that District attorneys should review and improve their efforts to obtain restitution orders for victims.

Willamette Education Service District – The Education Department requested this audit, which found many spending problems caused by weak governance and accountability.

DMV Computer Systems – Drivers’ license data needs to be protected and this audit concluded that the agency uses secure and reliable procedures.

Department of Revenue –Searching for added revenues, this audit found 66,000 non-filers who owed $109 million in 2007 personal income taxes, and recommended ways to better identify and collect from non-filers.

State Data Center – The SDC provides a controlled operating environment, but important operational controls, management of assets, disaster recovery, and security need attention. 2010

DOJ Child Support Enforcement – If Oregon can apply the methods of the most successful states, up to $70 million more in child support could be collected.

Vocational Rehabilitation – In 2008, Oregon’s cost per client ranked second among all the states. We identified several ways of saving costs and improving results in vocational rehabilitation to serve many more clients on the waiting list.

Oregon State Marine Board – The Governor requested an audit of the Marine Board where we found a frequent disregard for state rules and policies, and a casual attitude towards the use of public funds.

Oregon Youth Authority – The state’s closed custody facilities are a costly part of the juvenile justice system. We analyzed decisions made in the 36 counties for 3,300 youth offenders, and found the decisions to be a reasonable use of those facilities.

Administration of Earned Time – Earned Time Credits saved about $25 million in FY09, and some Department of Corrections practices could be improved.