The Rundown is your source for news and updates from the Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit including conversations with staff discussing the findings of performance audits released to the Kansas Legislature.
School Districts’ Self-Reported IT Security Practices and Resources [October 2021]
School districts maintain sensitive data which makes them attractive targets for cyberattacks. Although school districts maintain sensitive data, Kansas districts are not required to implement any specific IT controls. Many school districts have not implemented several basic It security controls: The majority of survey respondents (147 of 286 school districts - 51% resonse rate) indicated they lacked proper security awareness training and incident response plans, did not require secure confidential data transmission, and did not perform vulnerability scans at all or frequently enough. Districts reported that staffing issues and lack of knowledge about what IT security controls to implement were significant barriers to improving IT security. Finally, districts reported spending an annual average of about $18 per student on IT security in recent years. In comparison, the average total expenditure per student is about $16,200.
Evaluating Mental Health and Substance Abuse Initiatives to Improve Outcomes [August 2021]
Substance abuse and mental health treatment in Kansas is provided by a network of providers and overseen by several state agencies. Individuals can seek treatment for a wide variety of conditions. The 23 providers we interviewed reported using many practices and programs to address their clients’ needs. Almost all of the 11 programs and practices most commonly reported by providers had at least some research indicating they were effective. But data limitations kept us from assessing how well they are working in Kansas.
Additionally, Kansas substance abuse and mental health providers use similar practices and programs as five other states we reviewed. We were not able to compare Kansas's outcomes to other states because of data limitations.
Financial Position of the Butler County Community College Council Grove Site [August 2021]
The estimated revenues of the Council Grove site of Butler County Community College were about $11,000 less than its estimated expenditures. Butler County Community College (BCCC) operates a site in Council Grove that serves about 200 students. In fiscal year 2019, the estimated revenues for the Council Grove site were about $11,000 less than its estimated expenditures. In fiscal year 2019, the estimated expenditures of the Council Grove site were about $158,000. In fiscal year 2019, the Council Grove site generated about $147,000 in revenues from state aid and student tuition and fees. State Aid has not been paid according to Regents’ formula in recent years, which could explain why the Council Grove site operated at a deficit in fiscal year 2019. Because state aid hasn’t been paid according to Regents’ formula, it’s possible that property tax may have supported the Council Grove site but we couldn’t tell.
Grants Received by Local Election Officials [August 2021]
25 counties received a total of $2.3 million in grants from the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) that ranged from $5,000 to $856,000 with no obligations. The Center for Tech and Civic Life is a non-profit organization that provides civic information for voters as well as tools for election officials. 25 Kansas counties applied for and were awarded $2.3 million dollars in CTCL grants. As of January 31, 2021, counties reported using 92% of their grant money on items such as election equipment, staffing, and real estate expenses. There were no obligations associated with the acceptance of the CTCL grant. The grants were the subject of some political concerns, and under a new state law, counties will not be able to accept these type grants in the future.
Evaluating the Kansas Department of Labor’s Response to COVID-19 Unemployment Claims (Part 2) [August 2021]
Rapid program changes, historically high unemployment claims, and an ill-equipped computer processing system created delays in claims processing during the pandemic in Kansas. The Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) administers the regular unemployment insurance program and gives financial aid to unemployed individuals. In 2020, the federal government created several temporary unemployment insurance programs to help individuals who lost their jobs due to COVID-19. Kansas and other states across the U.S. experienced claims processing delays during the pandemic. KDOL relied on an outdated, piecemeal, and poorly maintained unemployment computer system during the pandemic. Frequent changes to the state’s unemployment computer system during the pandemic created system errors and processing delays. During the pandemic, a surge in valid and fraudulent claims strained the state’s outdated and piecemeal unemployment system, leading to system failures and claim delays. Prior to the pandemic, KDOL had few staff to answer calls because of low unemployment rates and federal funding structures. Despite additional staff, the number of calls answered did not improve significantly during the pandemic, potentially leading to additional claims delays. States with modern unemployment computer systems appeared better equipped to handle the challenges of the pandemic. KDOL is in the process of modernizing its unemployment computer system. In January 2021 we released a preliminary fraud estimate with the intent of releasing an updated estimate in this report. For this audit, we used an advanced computer model to create a more precise estimate of unemployment fraud in Kansas. We estimate about $700 million in potentially fraudulent payments were made in Kansas during the pandemic. Of the estimated $700 million in fraudulent benefit payments, about half ($343 million) came from federal funds and half ($344 million) from state funds. We estimate about $2 billion in potentially fraudulent payments were prevented in Kansas during the pandemic. KDOL officials reported working with federal organizations and banks to identify and recover fraudulent payments.
STAR Bonds Evaluation [August 2021]
This is an economic development incentive evaluation that satisfies the requirements in K.S.A. 46-1137. STAR bonds allow local governments to use future sales tax revenue to help pay for development or redevelopment projects. As of November 2020, about $873 million in mostly state sales tax revenue has gone toward retiring $1.1 billion in STAR bonds.
We used a tourism analysis and a break-even analysis to estimate Sales Tax and Revenue (STAR) bonds' economic and fiscal impact to the state. Tourism is a key component of the STAR bonds program. The Department of Commerce would like each attraction to draw 20% of visitors from outside Kansas and 30% of visitors from at least 100 miles away. Only 3 of the 16 STAR bond attractions we reviewed met those goals in one or both years we reviewed.
We also estimated that it will take the state decades to recoup the sales tax revenue it gave up in 3 STAR bond districts (Hutchinson Underground Salt Mine, Overland Park Prairiefire, and Wichita Sports Forum) based on revenues from out-of-state visitors. We estimate it might take the state 43-118 years after bond repayment to break even on Hutchinson, 13-71 years to break even on Overland Park, and 5-49 years to break even on Wichita.