Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Best Practices’ Category

Inspector General: Misuse, Sloth at Key EPA Facility

by Peggie Duggan June 14th, 2013

In an “Early Warning Report” the Office of the Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency recommended to the agency it take immediate action on its largest warehouse. Parts of the EPA headquarters storage site had been converted into a workers’ playtime complex for contractor employees while other sections were markedly unsanitary and unsafe. The contractor, Apex Logistics, LLC, had been previously described by EPA as “uniquely qualified” to do warehouse management work though there’d been no on-site reviews at the 77,000 square foot HQ warehouse in Landover, Maryland since it was leased by the agency in 2007. Following a briefing last month from the OIG about conditions there, EPA moved quickly to take corrective steps.

UW doc: here’s how a small clinic can divorce Big Pharma

by Matt Rosenberg May 28th, 2013

In a new report published in the May-June 2013 edition of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, University of Washington-Seattle doctor David Evans and several co-authors from Oregon describe how an independent community medical practice can consciously adopt new policies to diminish the influence of big pharmaceutical firms on their drug prescribing policies and thus give patients and insurers opportunities to cut related costs. They say theirs appears to be the first report on how small private practices, in particular, can develop a clear process on how to do this.

Tumwater at odds with state on loans for failing golf course

by Matt Rosenberg February 19th, 2013

A recently-issued report from Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley says the City of Tumwater is breaking state law by continuing to fund its money-losing golf course with revenues from its utility fund which are paid back so slowly the loans are a “permanent diversion” of taxpayer monies. The public facility owed nearly $2 million as of December but the city says it won’t change its practices because keeping the land open and green is crucial to connecting regional recreation assets, and the course will eventually see an uptick in revenues from hoped-for redevelopment of the adjacent Brewery District. Tumwater’s response stands in sharp contrast to that of two other Washington cities recently faced with similar audit findings about public golf courses beset by red ink. Lynnwood in Snohomish County is exploring contracting out the operation of its golf course or selling it, and Sumner in Pierce County says it will seek to sell its facility.

Smaller classes no panacea, Washington report finds

by Matt Rosenberg January 13th, 2013

In a new report for Washington state lawmakers pressed to meet a state Supreme Court mandate to better fund K-12 public education, the state’s own policy analysis unit has found that 10 percent class size reductions provide only a very modest gain in key student performance measures in early grades and nearly none in middle- and high-school. This comes not long after similar news from the same source that 10 percent bumps in K-12 spending also have limited bang-for-buck. A broader, related state study will report later this year on whether pinpointing new K-12 money to teacher effectiveness training gets better results.

Sound Transit Didn’t Validate $17M in Security Charges

by Matt Rosenberg December 19th, 2012

Violating the terms of its own contract with the King County Sheriff’s Office for security services, the regional transit agency serving King, Snohomish and Pierce counties failed to secure documentation to assure the validity of more than $17 million in related charges which it has paid since mid-2008. The finding comes in a a just-released draft accountability audit of Sound Transit by Washington State that will be presented at a meeting this Thursday of ST’s Audit and Reporting Committee.

In August, a Sound Transit internal audit found that King County Metro over-billed ST for more than $700,000 in para-transit services in the ST Link Light Rail footprint in and around Seattle, mainly by charging based on passenger bookings made – rather than actual rides provided. ST sought a billing credit and corrective steps were taken. In late October, a blistering performance audit by the state zeroed in on Sound Transit’s Citizens Oversight Committee, highlighting a series of ethical lapses and apparent conflicts of interest.

Six thefts of funds found at Seattle Community Colleges

by Matt Rosenberg November 28th, 2012

A letter from the Washington State Auditor’s Office, quietly slipped into the meeting agenda documents packet this month of the Seattle Community Colleges Board of Trustees, reveals that a College investigation verified six distinct instances of vanishing public funds from 2010 to 2012 totaling $7,240 and couldn’t determine who was responsible in any of the cases. They involve four different campuses of the College. The letter’s author, SAO Fraud Manager Sarah Walker, concludes, “we recommend the College strengthen internal controls to ensure adequate oversight and monitoring to safeguard public resources.” The school now says it has done that.

Janitors, secretaries most flu-prone workers in Washington

by Matt Rosenberg November 19th, 2012

On the one hand, getting the flu is considered fairly mundane, so long as there’s no pandemic and nobody dies. On the other hand, this common winter nuisance carries a hefty price tag. The annual bill in the United States for seasonal influenza is estimated at $87.1 billion in lost productivity, lost wages, and medical costs. We may suspect workers in certain occupations – such as health care or education – are more prone to get the flu, but there’s been little research on its prevalence across a range of occupations. Now, though, newly-reported data from Washington state provide some clues. A scientific survey of more than 8,700 Washington state workers showed that among 29 different categories it is janitors and cleaners, and secretaries who report the highest occurrence of flu-like symptoms, and truck drivers, technicians and construction laborers the lowest.