AWARDS & RECOGNITION FOR JLARC
Attesting to the credibility and quality of JLARC's work as reviewed and evaluated by its national peers, the most recent awards received by JLARC from the
National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) include:
2023 Certificate of Impact Award | Medicaid Fraud Qui Tam Provisions
JLARC staff received the 2023 Impact Award from NLPES for the sunset review of Medicaid Fraud Qui Tam Provisions. NLPES recognized the report for resulting in documented public policy changes and contributing to dollar savings.
Qui tam provisions are part of the 2012 Washington State Medicaid Fraud False Claims Act (the Act, Chapter 74.66 RCW). The provisions allow private parties, called relators, to file a complaint in state or federal court against a Medicaid provider suspected of committing fraud. When a complaint is filed, the Office of Attorney General (AGO) investigates the claim. If the AGO finds sufficient evidence that fraud occurred, it seeks a financial recovery for the state. The relator receives a portion of the recovery.
The qui tam provisions were scheduled to sunset (end) on June 30, 2023. JLARC’s review found that the provisions provide a method for reporting fraud, allow the AGO to participate in multistate cases, and maximize Washington’s financial recoveries. The Legislative Auditor recommended that the Legislature reauthorize the qui tam provisions in the Act and make them permanent.
The 2023 Legislature passed Senate Bill 5163, which fully implemented this recommendation.
2022 Certificate of Impact Award | Targeted Urban Area Exemption
JLARC staff received the 2022 Impact Award from NLPES for the tax preference performance review of a property tax exemption for Targeted Urban Areas. NLPES recognized the report for resulting in documented public policy changes, program improvements, dollar savings or other public impacts.
JLARC’s study found that the county population and geographic criteria for cities to qualify for the tax preference precluded any city from using the exemption. The one county that met the population criteria when the preference was first enacted in 2015 exceeded the population limit in 2018. No other county met the population criteria to use the exemption.
JLARC staff sought a ruling from the Department of Revenue (DOR), which concluded that no city could legally offer the exemption after 2018. Cities reported that no businesses had applied for the exemption program between 2015-2018.
The Legislative Auditor recommended the Legislature review the exemption program and consider whether to extend it, noting that if the Legislature wanted the exemption available for future use, it should at a minimum modify the population criteria and determine an expiration date for new participants.
JLARC staff expedited the report production by six months so that information on the program’s challenges was available for legislators to act during the 2021 session.
During the 2021 session, the Legislature passed a bill implementing the Legislative Auditor’s recommendation, removing all population and geographic limitations, and extending the expiration date for new applicants to December 2030.
2021 Certificate of Impact Award | Alternative Public Works Contracting Procedures Sunset Review
JLARC staff received the 2021 Impact Award from NLPES for the sunset review of the Alternative Public Works Contracting Procedures. NLPES recognized the office for demonstrating significant impacts from perspectives of both the Legislature and the audited agency.
JLARC’s study found that alternative contracting methods are widely used. Stakeholders reported a number of potential advantages to using alternative contracting methods, including fewer conflicts and stronger relationships between owners, contractors, and architects. The study also found that the Capital Projects Advisory Review Board (CPARB) engaged stakeholders, conducted studies, recommended policy changes to the Legislature, developed best practices guidelines, and appointed experienced members to the Project Review Committee (PRC), which makes decisions on public bodies' applications to use certain alternative methods. The PRC maintained a consistent application review process across the state. JLARC’s study noted that there have been gaps in data collection, and some of the statutory reporting requirements may not align with CPARB's primary duties or interests.
During the 2021 Legislative session, the Legislature reauthorized the alternative public works contracting procedures statute, as recommended by the Legislative Auditor. The statute is subject to another sunset review in 2030. In response to the Legislative Auditor’s recommendation, CPARB proposed modifications to its data collection procedures. This action will allow more flexibility for the organization to collect data it needs to effectively advise the Legislature on policy considerations.
2020 NLPES Excellence in Research Methods Award | Opportunity Scholarship and Opportunity Expansion Programs
JLARC was one of two offices in the nation to receive the competitive Excellence in Research Methods Award from NLPES for its study of Opportunity Scholarship and Opportunity Expansion Programs. The award recognized the "exceptional breadth, depth and scope of fieldwork" and the study's "technical difficulty and sophistication."
JLARC staff used a multi-method approach to collect data:
Interviews with financial aid professionals across Washington state suggested that more aid from one source did not necessarily equal more aid overall.
We identified key evaluation metrics and outcomes through a literature review.
We collected K-12 education data, public and private higher education class and financial data, and employment data from multiple state agencies and higher education institutions.
JLARC staff developed a predictive model using machine learning to determine which peer students are pursuing a STEM or health care degree, which allowed JLARC to compare Opportunity Scholars to other students who met the eligibility requirements but did not receive a scholarship.
This analysis allowed JLARC to:
Identify 29,848 students who met the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS) eligibility requirements but did not receive a scholarship.
Report that compared to their peers, Opportunity Scholars have lower out of pocket costs and fewer student loans.
Provide initial results suggesting that Opportunity Scholars are more like to graduate and earn middle-income wages than their peers.
We concluded that WSOS was meeting its legislative intent and enabled us to make recommendations to improve the information available to the Legislature in the future.