Initiating a Study
JLARC staff, assisted by outside consultants and experts when appropriate, carry out about a dozen performance audits and studies each year on behalf of the Legislature and the citizens of Washington State. These projects come to JLARC from a variety of directions, including citizen initiatives.
- Legislative Provisos in the operating, capital, and transportation budgets, as well as in policy bills, direct JLARC to undertake studies and to report back to legislative fiscal and policy committees. For the past three biennia, most of JLARC’s workload has come from such provisos.
- Sunset dates are inserted into legislation creating policies, state programs, and, sometimes, entire state agencies. 2000 legislation changed Washington’s Sunset Law [RCW 43.131] and enhanced JLARC’s role by making performance goals and performance measures key parts of the sunset review process. Click here to see "What is a Sunset Review?" document.
While mandated studies make up a considerable portion of JLARC’s work, each year the Committee encourages suggestions and recommendations for studies that are likely to have significant policy or fiscal impact for the state.
JLARC's Work Plan for the current biennium: Work Plan
Key Steps in the Study Process
The following outlines some of the key steps in JLARC’s study process:
- JLARC gets assignments and mandates for studies in both budget and policy legislation.
- JLARC also initiates Committee-approved studies through requests and suggestions from JLARC members, other legislators, legislative staff, OFM, and the State Auditor. These studies reflect JLARC criteria for its work program.
- JLARC does a biennial work plan and schedules its studies.
- JLARC staff develop “scope and objectives” for studies for Committee review.
- For major studies, advisory groups, made up of legislators and legislative staff and stakeholders, as appropriate, give advice to JLARC staff.
- JLARC members review and comment on preliminary reports of JLARC studies. Reports are the work of JLARC staff and reflect its professional standards of thoroughness, objectivity, and completeness. Findings and proposed recommendations are the centerpieces of these reports.
- Committee takes action on final reports: approving reports for distribution, adding Committee addenda in line with JLARC’s statute if and when appropriate.
- JLARC recommendations flow to the overall legislative process. JLARC itself sometimes initiates legislation, however, with the consensus of its members.
- JLARC staff follow up with agencies and the legislature to track implementation of report recommendations and to track cost savings from these recommendations.
JLARC performance audits are performed in accordance with the "Government Auditing Standards" published by the comptroller general of the United States as applicable to the scope of the audit.