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The state agency that helps disabled Utahns get job training or an education is doing a poor job of managing and tracking its cases, according to a new audit released Wednesday.
The report by the Utah legislative auditor general reviewed a sample of vocational rehabilitation cases and expressed concerns about the documentation for 77 percent of those reviewed.
The auditor also said there is inadequate quality control or case review within the program. As a result, auditors said it is difficult to measure the effectiveness of the program and in some cases clients may be on the program longer than they need to, increasing the cost to taxpayers.
In one instance, one case had been open for 26 years, and wasn't closed until March when it was brought to the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation's (USOR) attention by auditors. In others, the auditors found there were still open case files for clients who had moved out of the state, including one who left Utah in 2004 to attend law school and never returned.
"We appreciate the audit," USOR executive director Darin Brush told legislative leaders Wednesday. "They're absolutely right. They're on target."
The audit comes on the heels of an earlier review that found that USOR had mismanaged its budget, resulting in the agency running a $4.9 million deficit in 2014, burning through $17 million of its reserves, needing $6.3 million in additional money from the state in 2015, and bracing for a penalty from the U.S. government of as much as $6 million.
The Legislature responded last year by moving USOR from the State Office of Education to the Department of Workforce Services. That transition is underway and is expected to be completed in October.
Brush noted that he and his management team were hired 10 months ago and have begun taking steps to deal with some of the audit recommendations. Staff is being trained on maintaining the proper documentation and a new case management system will help in that regard, he said.
The office has had to cut 50 full-time employees to balance its budget, but has added a new compliance officer and a new policy coordinator.