JLARC Legislative Auditor's Annual Report 2013

The Legislature's Performance Auditor

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 2012 through September 2013, 10 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.

JLARC One of Two Offices in the Nation Awarded for Excellence by NCSL

JLARC was distinguished with receiving the highly competitive 2013 Excellence in Research Methods award from the National Legislative Program Evaluation Society (NLPES). NLPES is the program evaluation staff section of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

The award was provided for the JLARC report evaluating Lottery marketing efforts. Using advanced statistical methods, the JLARC staff concluded that jackpot size and the economy, not advertising or beneficiary changes, appeared to impact ticket sales.

Selected Work

Local Infrastructure Financing Tool (LIFT)

JLARC was directed to analyze the economic impact of LIFT projects, finding that the data necessary to evaluate this program does not exist, and would not be feasible to collect. Recommendations include that DOR and CERB identify statutory changes to improve the program’s oversight and guidelines and that the Legislature suspend future JLARC studies of the LIFT program.

LIFT image

Trout Production Costs

The Legislature directed JLARC to identify the availability of alternative approaches to trout production and to compare Fish and Wildlife’s trout production costs with the alternative’s costs. JLARC staff determined that both Fish and Wildlife and the private sector may be able to supply rainbow trout for competitive prices.

Trout Production image

Puget Sound Partnership

JLARC’s 2011 audit of the Puget Sound Partnership (PSP) concluded that the 2008 Action Agenda lacked critical accountability tools. JLARC found that the 2012 Action Agenda improves accountability, but continues to have shortcomings in three key areas: linking actions to progress toward goals, prioritizing actions, and monitoring effectiveness.

Puget Sound Partnership image

View all JLARC reports and 2013-15 Work Plan on JLARC's website

JLARC Work Leads to Action

JLARC reports often contain recommendations to agencies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations. Between 2009 and 2012, JLARC issued 54 recommendations directly to state agencies. 91 percent of these recommendations have been implemented or are in the process of being implemented.

74 percent have been implemented, 17 percent are in the process, and 9 percent are not yet implemented

The Legislature also acts on JLARC recommendations.

Tax Preferences

JLARC started evaluating tax preference performance in 2007, often noting that preferences lacked statements of expected performance. Legislation in 2013 improves the evaluation and oversight of tax preferences: new and revised tax preferences must include metrics to evaluate their effectiveness.

Alternative Public Works

The Legislature acted on JLARC’s recommendation to extend laws that established alternatives to traditional design-bid-build public works process. Such alternatives include: General Contractor Construction Manager, Design-Build , and Job Order Contracting.

Sunset Reviews

At the request of JLARC, the Legislature reauthorized the Sunset Act, a key accountability and oversight tool.

Local Lodging Taxes

Following JLARC’s review of the problems associated with reporting the use of lodging tax revenues, the Legislature required more detailed annual tracking and reporting.

View all JLARC reports and 2013-15 Work Plan on JLARC's website

Tax Preferences

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 seven years (2007 through 2013 reports), JLARC staff have reviewed, in-depth, 180 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 8
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 49
Continue ...is being achieved 111
Total: 180

View all work completed for the Citizen Commission on the Commission's website

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 2013-15 biennium and in the future covers many topics, from highway costs to workers’ compensation. At the Legislature’s direction, JLARC’s work will include:

Highway Maintenance and Preservation

Are the methods and systems used by WSDOT to determine need, and the cost of meeting that need, accurate and utilize industry leading practices?

Workers’ Compensation Claims Management

Is the claims management system prompt, efficient, and fair?

Tax Preferences

JLARC will review 20 tax preferences, with a focus on aerospace preferences.

Economic Impact of Public Lands

What is the impact on economic vitality of public lands?

Public School Employees Health Benefits

Are the changes implemented in 2012 leading to greater equity in the costs of health insurance to school employees?

University of Washington Alternative Public Works

Are alternative contracting processes meeting legislative intent, and should they be continued?

Gas Vapor Regulation

Are regulations and registration fees consistent and transparent across the regulatory agencies?

View all JLARC reports and 2013-15 Work Plan on JLARC's website