The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) is the Legislature’s performance auditor, working to make state government operations more effective, efficient, and accountable.
JLARC pursues its mission by conducting performance audits, program evaluations, sunset reviews, and other analyses at the direction of the Legislature. Based on these assignments, JLARC’s non-partisan staff auditors, under the direction of the Legislative Auditor, independently seek answers to audit questions and issue recommendations to improve performance.
From July 2011 through September 2012, 13 reports were presented by staff to the Committee, covering a wide range of topics. This annual report provides examples of that work and work JLARC will undertake in the coming years.
1951: The Legislature creates the Legislative Budget Committee (LBC).
1971/1973: The Legislature authorizes the LBC to conduct management surveys, program reviews, and performance audits.
1977: The Legislature establishes the Sunset Act, with the LBC conducting program and fiscal reviews of agencies scheduled for termination.
1996: The Legislature requires use of Government Auditing Standards, and changes the name of its auditing agency to the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC).
2006: The Legislature establishes the Citizen Commission for Performance Measurement of Tax Preferences and directs JLARC to support the Commission by reviewing all tax preferences every ten years.
JLARC’s Work This Year: Select JLARC Reports
From July 2011 through September 2012, 13 reports were presented by staff to the Committee, covering a wide range of topics: a selection is summarized below.
Alternative Public Works:
Alternative procedures allow public bodies to select contractors based on qualifications early in design so that the contractor can participate in the design process. The report recommended the Legislature continue this authority because it provides options for managing construction risk and because public bodies in Washington follow requirements established to ensure that alternative procedures are used in the public interest.
The Washington Manufacturing Innovation and Modernization Extension Service (MIMES) program was created to increase the availability of innovation and modernization services to Washington manufacturers. The Sunset statutes direct that, absent specfic action by the Legislature, the MIMES program would cease to exist on June 30, 2012. Because no manufacturers are using the MIMES program, JLARC recommended that the Legislature allow the program to expire.
JLARC reviewed the state’s workplace safety and health activities at the Department of Labor and Industries and concluded that L&I complies with federal and state law, and it allocates resources for data-driven prevention activities. Research shows a reduction in claims after L&I activities.
Agencies Implement JLARC’s Recommendations
JLARC reports often contain recommendations to agencies; these recommendations focus on improving the efficiency of their operations.
Between 2008 and 2011, JLARC issued 64 recommendations directly to state agencies. 91 percent of these recommendations have been implemented or are in the process of being implemented.
This covers a wide variety of agency performance improvements, spanning many areas of state government. Examples of recent recommendations:
The Puget Sound Partnership agreed with JLARC that their Action Agenda was not able to determine whether the millions of dollars spent on Puget Sound clean-up was working; they agreed to put processes in place to make such a determination.
Community Corrections is an area of high risk. The Department of Corrections was not determining if the actions they were taking were successful in reducing risk; DOC agreed with JLARC to implement a review process to monitor results and inform ongoing efforts.
The Legislature established a process to reimburse county courts for the cost of involuntary treatment hearings but DSHS had not established processes needed to ensure correct reimbursement. JLARC recommended, and DSHS agreed, to establish a timeline for implementing accurate reimbursement procedures.
What’s on the Horizon: 2013 and Beyond
At the beginning of each biennium, the Committee establishes a two-year work plan. JLARC’s work for the remainder of this biennium and in the future will cover many topics, from K-12 health benefits, to financing local infrastructure programs, to setting tuition at the state’s universities. At the Legislature’s direction, JLARC’s work will include:
JLARC will review 23 tax preferences ranging from artistic organizations to prescription drugs.
Unemployment Insurance Training Benefits
Is the extended unemployment benefit for those participating in an approved training program getting workers re-employed and are they staying employed?
Worker’s Compensation Claims Management
Is the claims management system efficient, fair, timely, and responsive? Are there better claims management service delivery models?
Competency to Stand Trial
Is DSHS meeting timelines for completing competency evaluations? Has DSHS established productivity standards for staff performing evaluations?
Local Infrastructure Financing Tool (LIFT)
Is the LIFT program resulting in higher property values, increased employment, and a bigger tax base?
Public School Employees Health Benefits
Are the changes implemented in 2012 leading to greater equity in the costs of health insurance to school employees?
Higher Education Performance and Tuition Setting Authority
What is the impact of granting tuition setting authority to the state’s universities on student access and school quality?
LEARN MORE ABOUT US AND OUR WORK
A complete list of the project JLARC will work on over the coming years, and a brief explanation of those projects, is found at: www.leg.wa.gov/JLARC/Documents/11-13JLARCWorkPlanAssignmentSummaries.pdf
Ongoing Performance Review of Tax Preferences
In 2006, the Legislature charged JLARC and the Citizen Commission on the Performance Measurement of Tax Preferences with reviewing the state’s tax preferences. Completed on a ten-year cycle, tax preferences include exemptions, deductions, and preferential rates.
The Pew Center on the States recently concluded Washington is one of only four states to have integrated evaluation of preferences into the policy process, ensuring that the investments are regularly reviewed.
Over the past six years (2007 through 2012 reports), JLARC staff have reviewed, in-depth, 158 preferences, making the following recommendations:
|Recommendation||Primarily because the public policy objective...||#|
|Terminate||...is not being met, is outdated, or was intended to be temporary||7|
|Allow to expire||...is not being met, is outdated, or was intended to be temporary||12|
|Clarify the intent||...is not clear, or it is unclear if the objective is being met||40|
|Continue||...is being achieved||99|