Government Efficiency through Quality Evaluations
In order to develop and maintain efficient services, our government needs to continually evaluate its programs and services and make changes when needed. Leading the change in the evaluation process is Minnesota’s Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA).
The OLA is a professional, nonpartisan audit and evaluation office that provides the Legislature, state agencies, and the public with reports on state and local government functions. Through these reports, the OLA seeks to strengthen accountability and promote good management in government.
The OLA is not just a tool for legislators; it should also be used by the people of Minnesota. I encourage you to visit the OLA website to see what they have been working on. To do so, go to www.auditor.leg.state.mn.us/. Recent reports from the OLA include:
• K-12 Online Learning – OLA found that online learning can provide significant options and benefits for K-12 students, as well as for their families and schools. But their report also highlights concerns regarding course-completion rates, drop-out rates, and standardized test results for full-time online students.
• Civil Commitment of Sex Offenders – OLA found that the state’s increased use of civil commitment for certain sex offenders has resulted in a significant growth in costs. Their recommendations include improvements to the program used to treat civilly committed sex offenders and they suggest the state consider supplementing its current approach to civil commitment of sex offenders with some less costly alternatives.
• Medical Nonemergency Transportation – OLA found that Minnesota’s administrative structure for the medical nonemergency transportation program duplicative and confusing and state oversight weak. In addition to changes to improve accountability, they recommend that the Legislature require the Department of Human Services to develop a proposal to create a single administrative structure for the medical nonemergency transportation program.
A bipartisan commission of six members from the House of Representatives and six from the Senate (equally divided between the majority and minority parties) called the Legislative Audit Commission (LAC), held meetings throughout the year to choose which topics the OLA should focus on in 2011 and 2012. The following topics are currently a “work in progress”:
• Accountability for Legacy Funds
• Child Protection Screening
• Consolidation of Local Governments
• Helping Communities Recover from Disasters
• Enforcement of Vehicle Size and Weight Restrictions
The selection of topics is also open to the public. The OLA is open to any suggestions you may have. Visit http://www.auditor.leg.state.mn.us/hotline.htm for information on how to suggest an audit or evaluation.
As always, please contact me with questions or suggestions about any issue. Please visit my Senate website at senate.mn/senatorwiger. I also encourage you to visit me at the Capitol, or let me know if you’d like me to stop by your home or apartment. Also, please tune in to my local cable TV show, “Your Capitol: What’s Up?,” which appears on public access channels 15 and 16.