Audit Division

Audit Summary

 

Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety

Division of Parole and Probation

Report LA00-07

 

Results in Brief

Because of significant management control weak-nesses, the Division of Parole and Probation is having difficulty meeting its responsibility to protect the public. The Division supervises more than 10,000 criminal offenders in the State.However, offenders have not been supervised according to Division standards. In addition, the Division has many problems in its classification process used to place offenders at the appropriate supervision level.As a result, the Division has little assurance that offenders are supervised according to the risks they pose to the public.††

 

The Divisionís process to collect monthly supervision fees from offenders needs significant improvement.During fiscal year 1998, about $900,000 in supervision fees went uncollected because of poor collection practices, inaccurate records, and weak controls over granting fee exemptions.In addition, the Division has not established adequate internal controls to safeguard more than $2 million in fees paid annually by offenders.While we did not identify instances of fraud, the Divisionís controls are so weak that fraud and abuse could go undetected.Because the Divisionís process is both ineffective and inefficient, it can improve collections and internal controls while reducing the amount of resources spent on this function.

 

Management is ultimately responsible for ensuring the agency achieves its goals and efficiently uses public resources.Although the Division has received sufficient funding to perform supervision activities, it does not have an effective management system to ensure resources are used efficiently. For instance, the Division needs to improve its performance measurement system, and oversight and monitoring of district operations.Moreover, we identified numerous inefficiencies throughout the Divisionís operations.These inefficiencies contribute to Nevada having the highest cost of offender supervision among western states.By eliminating or revising practices that cause unnecessary costs, the Division could make millions of dollars available each year for other priorities.Although management has made recent efforts to improve the Divisionís operations, sustained commitment to establishing an effective system of management controls is necessary to correct long-standing weaknesses.

 

 

Principal Findings

                 To ensure adequate offender supervision, the Division has established minimum monthly contacts that officers have to make for each supervision level.However, officers did not make many required supervision contacts during the period covered by our sample, fiscal years 1993 to 1998.For the 62 offender files we reviewed, the Division made only 60% of required contacts.Because many contacts were not made, the Division rarely met its monthly supervision standards.Furthermore, some offenders received no supervision.(page 12)

 

                  The Division did not make most required home visits.For the offender files reviewed, the Division made only 36% of required home visits.Furthermore, in those cases where home visits were not made, the Division did not attempt a visit 73% of the time.(page 15)

 

                 The Division did not conduct a majority of required supervision level reassessments.For the offender files we reviewed, only 45% of reassessments were done.Furthermore, some offenders went long periods without a supervision level review.In 30% of the offender files reviewed, the Division had not reassessed the offenderís supervision level in 18 months or more.Additionally, in July 1997, the Legislature enacted a law requiring the Division to reassess offender supervision levels at least once every 6 months.Yet, the Division did not conduct 50% of statutorily required reassessments between July 1997 and June 1998.(page 18)

 

                 The Division has a poor process for collecting supervision fees.For fiscal year 1998, the Division collected about 55% of the fees owed.Several factors contribute to low or inconsistent collection rates among districts.These factors include: (1) inadequate emphasis on collections, (2) inaccurate records for the amounts owed by offenders, (3) an inefficient billing process, (4) a lack of information to monitor collections, (5) inconsistent granting of fee exemptions, and (6) the failure to charge some supervision fees.(page 26)

 

                 The Division has not established an adequate system of internal controls to safeguard more than $2 million in fees paid annually by offenders.Internal control weaknesses include: (1) payments not recorded when received, (2) poor controls over cash receipt forms, (3) total payments received not compared to deposits, (4) offenders paying their fees to officers instead of accounting staff, (5) inadequate separation of duties, (6) untimely deposits, and (7) poor controls over payments received by mail.(page 30)

 

                 The Division can improve collections and internal controls while reducing the amount of resources spent on the supervision fee collection process.Duplication of efforts, redundant information systems, and unnecessary work contribute to a collection process that is both inefficient and ineffective.By ensuring supervision fee payments are recorded accurately in one information system, the Division could eliminate much of the work it does in this area while improving the information it needs for effective collections.†† (page 33)

 

                 The Legislature has provided the Division with sufficient parole and probation officer positions to supervise offender caseloads at formula-funded levels.However, control weaknesses in the hiring process hampered the agencyís ability to fill vacancies timely.The Division lacked policies and procedures, management information on vacancies, and consistent management oversight of hiring.These weaknesses resulted in the Division not testing or recruiting applicants from April 1996 to March 1997.Consequently, by July 1997, the Division had 41 parole and probation officer positions vacant.(page 37)

 

                 The Division lacks management controls to ensure effective performance.While the Division has a central management office, the office has not provided strong oversight of district operations.Without controls in place to guide district operations and monitor performance, the Division has no assurance it can meet its mission of public safety.†† (page 37)

 

                 Inefficient operations contribute to Nevada having the highest cost of offender supervision among western states.Nevadaís daily cost per offender of $5.20 far exceeds other western states and the national average of $3.13.Although we did not audit all functions of the Division, we identified numerous inefficiencies in the areas we examined.If the Division reduced its cost of supervision 10% by eliminating inefficiencies, it could make $2.7 million available each year for other priorities.Because the Division is in the process of implementing a new management information system, the increase in automation should help create efficiencies by allowing more work to be done with existing resources.(page 41)

 

                 High turnover in key management positions has made it difficult for the Division to carry out its responsibilities efficiently and effectively.Since 1993, the Division has had three Chiefs and each District Administrator position has turned over at least twice.In addition, the Division has implemented several new programs.These factors have made it harder for the Division to successfully manage its operations, increasing the need for effective management controls to ensure goals are met.†† (page 45)

 

                 Management of the Division has recognized it needs to make significant changes to improve performance.During the audit, management began taking steps to strengthen management controls.However, sustained top management attention and commitment to continuously improve performance will be needed to ensure long-term implementation of management controls.†† (page 45)

 


Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety

Division of Parole and Probation

 

Agency Response

to Audit Recommendations

 

Recommendation

†††† Number

 

Accepted

Rejected

1

Monitor officer performance to ensure supervision contact guidelines are followed

x

 

2

Establish policies and procedures for the assignment of offenders to open caseloads

x

 

3

Consider alternative strategies to ensure home visits are made as required

 

x

4

Ensure mandated drug tests are conducted and policies and procedures for the frequency of testing are followed

x

 

5

Perform timely classification of offender supervision levels

x

 

6

Consider using case objective plans in conjunction with minimum contact standards to supervise offenders

 

x

7

Establish a review process for supervision level reassessments and classification overrides

x

 

8

Ensure complete and accurate documentation is maintained for offender supervision activities and assigned supervision levels

 

x

9

Monitor parole and probation officersí efforts in motivating offenders to pay supervision fees

x

 

10

Develop written procedures to ensure supervision fees are recorded accurately

x

 

11

Establish an efficient billing process and accurate accounts receivable system for supervision fees

x

 

12

Grant supervision fee exemptions in accordance with Division policy

x

 

13

Ensure changes in supervision fee requirements are clearly communicated to all districts

x

 

14

Record supervision fee payments when received

x

 

15

Develop written procedures to ensure the total amount of payments received is established each day and deposited intact

x

 

16

Comply with state requirements for the use of cash receipt forms

x

 

17

Limit the collection of money to accounting personnel

 

x

18

Separate key duties over the revenue collection,

recording, and deposit process

x

 

19

Deposit cash receipts in accordance with statutory time requirements

x

 

20

Establish written procedures for using mail logs

x

 

21

Ensure internal control policies and procedures are implemented at the district level

x

 

22

Maintain one set of accounting records for each

offender

x

 

23

Review internal accounting control procedures and eliminate those procedures that create unnecessary costs without benefit

x

 

24

Develop performance measures that demonstrate the results achieved with the resources provided

x

 

25

Clearly assign duties and a responsibilities for management oversight of offender supervision and supervision fee collections

x

 

26

Monitor district performance and compliance with policies and procedures

x

 

27

Establish a process to ensure the timely review of policies and procedures

x

 

28

Review the Divisionís processes for offender supervision and eliminate those processes that create unnecessary costs without benefit

x

 

TOTALS

 

24

4

 


Auditorís Comments on Agency Response

 

 

††††††††††† The Division of Parole and Probation, in its response beginning on page 52, rejected 4 of our 28 recommendations.Those recommendations are as follows:

 

††††††††††††††††††††††† Recommendation

†††††††††††††† Page†††††† ††††††† Number     

 

61†††††††††††††††††† 3††††††††† Consider alternative strategies to ensure home visits are made as required.

 

61†††††††††††††††††† 6††††††††† Consider using case objective plans in conjunction with minimum contact standards to supervise offenders.

 

61†††††††††††††††††† 8††††††††† Ensure complete and accurate documentation is maintained for offender supervision activities and assigned supervision levels.

 

62†††††††††††††††† 17††††††††† Limit the collection of money to accounting personnel.

 

††††††††††† Upon evaluating the agencyís response to our audit report, we noted they were generally in agreement with the intent of the audit recommendations.The agencyís response further indicates that they have begun taking corrective action on the four recommendations that were initially rejected.Therefore, we believe our recommendations are appropriate to address the issues raised in the audit report.