Monday, May 20, 2024

Louisiana report shows that only 40% of recommendations implemented after audits

by BIZ Magazine

By Victor Skinner | The Center Square contributor

A new audit examining dozens of recommended changes for nine state agencies found only about 40% have been fully implemented more than two years later.

Louisiana Legislative Auditor Mike Waguespack issued a report last week titled “Implementation Status of Recommendations From Select Performance Audits Issued During Fiscal years 2019 through 2020.”

The report provides the implementation status of 53 recommendations in seven performance audits from 2020, and five recommendations from three audits issued in 2019. They involve the Louisiana departments of Revenue, Environmental Quality, and Justice, as well as the Louisiana Attorney General, State Board of Medical Examiners, Louisiana Workforce Commission, Office of Technology Services, Louisiana Economic Development, Louisiana Physical Therapy Board and the Office of Risk Management.

“Of the 58 recommendations, 47 (81%) were either implemented, partially implemented, or are in the process of being implemented,” auditors wrote. “In addition, 11 (19%) of the recommendations have not been implemented; although agencies indicated they intend to implement some of these in the future.”

A breakdown of the recommendations shows 39.6% have been fully implemented, while 36.2% were in progress, and 5.2% were partially implemented.

The report notes three examples of recommendations that led to notable improvements at the Louisiana Department of Revenue, Office of Risk Management, and Department of Justice.

“The Louisiana Department of Revenue’s Business Tax Enforcement division has shifted its collection focus to prioritize collection inventory by debt age to collect on the newest debt,” auditors wrote. “Prioritizing debt collection by age is a best practice that could help LDR increase collections.”

LDR also implemented a recommendation to remove potential obstacles to taxpayers using installment agreements set up online. The agency changed its rule to allow taxpayers to establish a 36-month installment agreement through its Louisiana Access Point self-service portal without an approval process, according to the report.

“The new process has allowed LDR to assist the taxpayer quicker, improve customer service, and reduce the wait to be assisted by a customer service representative,” auditors wrote.

The LLA also noted the Office of Risk Management has implemented a recommendation to develop a formal criteria for concurring with appointments of contract counsel at the Department of Justice.

“This helps ensure that ORM’s concurrence process, which is required by state law, is transparent and nonbiased,” the report read.

Several of the LLA recommendations that have not been implemented involved the Department of Justice and oversight of attorneys defending claims against the state.

For more than two decades, the DOJ has resisted LLA recommendations regarding policies and procedures governing its decision to use contract versus DOJ attorneys, including developing formal criteria to help guide staff. The DOJ also has not implemented LLA recommendations to consider past performance of contract attorneys, or to ensure they comply with all minimum qualifications, alleging the recommendations undermine the defense of state tort litigation and violate Louisiana Supreme Court rules.

Another example includes the 2020 LLA recommendation that Louisiana Economic Development publish the actual number of jobs created by the Quality Jobs Program, which incentivizes businesses to locate or expand operations in Louisiana.

LED did not concur with the finding and did not implement it, and has continued to report only the anticipated number of jobs created, citing state law that requires certain statutorily required reports.

“If the Legislature desires for LED to report an aggregate number of jobs created by applicants of the QJ program each year, LED would abide by the change in statute regarding reporting,” the LLA report reads.

A full breakdown of all 58 recommendations is included in the document.

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