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Archive for the ‘State Governments’ Category

WA Auditor: New finance IT system could cut waste

by Matt Rosenberg May 9th, 2013

By rustling up $172 million for a badly needed, contemporary enterprise-wide financial management system Washington state government could reap benefits approaching or perhaps exceeding $228 million in saved effort and improved processes, as awkward computer software workarounds, laborious redundancies and other workaday inefficiencies tied to musty legacy software finally get a proper burial. That’s the conclusion of a new 200-plus page performance audit released Wednesday by Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley.

Washington tops U.S. in 12-year Alzheimer’s Death Rates

by Matt Rosenberg March 28th, 2013

Earlier this month, the U.S. government reported the death rate for Alzheimer’s disease rose 39 percent from 2000 to 2010 and that in 2010 Washington had the highest rate among U.S. states. Yet which states had the highest Alzheimer’s death rates not just for 2010, but over the entire last decade? Digging into the Compressed Mortality File of the National Center for Health Statistics, using the “Wonder” data retrieval tool of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, we found that from 1999 through 2010, Washington state by a wide margin had the highest age-adjusted average annual death rate from Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S. It was 39.75 per 100,000 population. Of the top ten counties for Alzheimer’s deaths in Washington nine were western. This most prevalent type of dementia strikes mainly older people, but life expectancies statewide for both men and women in Washington are only slightly above national averages – as shown in the most recent data (2009, Excel) from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The CDC says the most closely-correlated risk factors for Alzheimer’s are age and genetics but that high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes may also figure in.

Map: Alzheimer’s Disease Death Rate Per 100K Pop., by U.S. State, 1999-2010

From National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Compressed Mortality File, 1999-2010. Rates are age-adjusted, with 95% confidence interval

Rounding out the top ten U.S. states in 1999-2010 age-adjusted Alzheimer’ death rates per 100,000 population after Washington are North Dakota (32.70), Arizona (30.82), South Carolina (30.76), Tennessee (30.68), Maine (29.75), Louisiana (29.38), Alabama (28.80), Oregon (28.50) and Colorado (28.35).

Top three WA counties for Alzheimer’s death rates are Kitsap, Wahkiakum, Skagit
Within Washington, nine of the ten counties with the highest Alzheimer’s death rate over the 12-year stretch from 1999 through 2010 were in the western part of the state. The 10 were Kitsap (55.91), Wahkiakum (53.38), Skagit (49.42), Thurston (47.18), Island (46.36), Cowlitz (46.32), Pend Oreille (44.73), Pierce (42.91), Lewis (42.73), and Snohomish (42.62).

Map: Alzheimer’s Disease Death Rate Per 100K Pop., by WA Counties, 1999-2010

From National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Compressed Mortality File, 1999-2010. Rates are age-adjusted, with 95% confidence interval

The NCHS reports Alzheimer’s is now the sixth most frequent cause of death in the U.S. and fifth for those 65 and up. Non-Hispanic whites have a 26 percent greater risk of death from Alzheimer’s than African-Americans and a 30 percent greater risk compared to the Hispanic population. An estimated $200 million was spent in 2012 caring for patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia in the U.S. That amount is projected to more than quintuple by 2050.


  • Explore NCHS’s Compressed Mortality File 1999-2010 with CDC “Wonder” tool
  • Mortality From Alzheimer’s Disease in the United States – Data From 2000 and 2010,” CDC/NCHS Data Brief, March 2013
  • CDC feature, Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, University of Washington

  • Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.

    $16K lifted from Seattle Central in parking garage caper

    by Matt Rosenberg March 18th, 2013

    According to the results of a fraud investigation made public last week by Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley, two attendants at the Harvard Garage of Seattle Central Community College on Capitol Hill misappropriated $15,932 in mid-2011, and another $31,532 may have also been skimmed away but internal accounting controls were too poor to tell. The lot was cash-only and there were initially no security cameras. The Auditor’s Office says employees used voided and reprinted receipts to cover up pocketing of the $15,932; and for the $31,532 in question, were able to classify some paying customers as unpaid visitors, staff or ride-sharers, in order to apparently funnel away proceeds.

    One worker has admitted to his misdeeds and is paying back the college district; and several corrective measures have been put in place. Both were terminated. The news comes in the wake of six other 2010-2012 cases of misappropriated funds by district employees verified by the state auditor last fall.

    WA achievement test pass rates mostly stagnant since 2006

    by Matt Rosenberg March 11th, 2013

    Recently updated state data packaged into customizable visualizations through the University of Washington-Bothell’s Center For Education Data and Research and its Washington Achievement Data Explorer (WADE) tool show that for third, fourth, fifth, eighth and tenth-graders in Washington, average statewide pass rates on state achievement tests in math and reading have been either relatively flat or down between 2006 and 2012. Pass rates on the state tests have grown for sixth and seventh-graders. A series of visualizations follow; as we mine the OSPI/WADE data on statewide pass rate progress for all grades taking the tests. By clicking on “Explore Data” in any of the visualizations, users can enter WADE’s Google Public Data Explorer interface and add in other school districts to compare results to the statewide data.

    Some previous reports we’ve generated here recently have compared statewide eighth-grade pass rates on the state math and reading tests with results from among major urban region school districts statewide; and from districts in Pierce, Snohomish and King counties. Now we’ll dive in to the state average pass rate results by grade – and progress, if any – from 2006 through 2012. Hover over the graph line for exact rates by year.

    Explore latest K-12 achievement data with UW tool

    by Matt Rosenberg February 25th, 2013

    Using the Google Public Data Explorer tool, we run two visualizations from recently-released 2012 data on percent of eighth graders meeting the Washington state achievement test passing standard in math, and reading, at 26 selected urban-region districts. In each case, half the districts exceed statewide average performance and half don’t. See custom charts, below. Top performers on the eighth-grade state math achievement test – among districts we examined – were Bellevue, Lake Washington, Port Angeles, Everett, and Olympia. The lowest performers for the same measure in 2012 were the East Valley district near Yakima, plus Yakima, Tacoma, Pasco and Longview. State academic achievement tests data for 2012 have recently been added to the user-friendly, interactive Washington Achievement Data Explorer (WADE) database operated by the Center for Education Data and Research (CEDR) at the University of Washington in Bothell. WADE is integrated with and can be explored using tools from Google Public Data Explorer.

    At the WADE site, users can select school districts to compare for achievement test outcomes by grade and subject. Demographic data for each district, which is often correlated with outcomes, is also available. The data come from the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Among other features, Google Public Data Explorer provides customized HTML embed code for each data set that is constructed by users. Following are two charts developed by Public Data Ferret using the WADE site.

    First are eighth-grade “meeting the math standard” rates for the 26 selected urban-region school districts in Washington state, from 2006 through 2012. They are ranked on the right by 2012 outcomes, but by hovering over any district’s name, its seven-year history for the metric chosen can be tracked.

    Next, for the same 26 districts, are the 2012 rankings and seven-year histories of percent of eighth graders meeting the state standard on the reading achievement test.

    Public Data Ferret’s Education archive

    By clicking on “Explore The Data” in the lower right-hand corner of either of the above charts, you can enter the WADE interface at Google Public Data Explorer and devise a customized report from the state data, choosing different measures and districts. You can also enter the WADE interface, with a tutorial through the the UW-Bothell/CEDR gateway.

    Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.

    Mercer Island Council Outlines Battle Plan Against I-90 Tolls

    by Matt Rosenberg February 24th, 2013

    Admitting local state legislators have already warned their colleagues will likely approve electronic tolling on Interstate 90, Mercer Island City officials are still poised Monday night to approve a work plan to battle the move.

    Council bill 4809 would OK an initial appropriation of $150,000 from the city’s $2.34 million general contingency fund to hire experts on the economic and traffic impacts to the well-off city of planned state tolling on I-90, plus federal and state lobbyists and a communications and government affairs consultant to fight the plan. Mercer Island has already engaged the high-powered Seattle law firm of K&L Gates, which recently completed a letter to the the Washington State Department of Transportation outlining what should be examined, and how, in the planned Environmental Assessment, or EA, on I-90 tolling.

    New report: State $1.4 billion shy for SR 167 extension

    by Matt Rosenberg February 18th, 2013

    A new report to the legislature says Washington state is currently $1.43 billion short of what it would take to complete a crucial six-lane, six-mile partially-tolled extension of State Route 167 from Meridian Avenue in Puyallup across Interstate 5 to Port of Tacoma Road and State Route 509. According to the report just issued by the Washington State Department of Transportation, another $1.5 billion is needed for right-of-way purchases, securing permits and building the project, but only $65 million could be raised over 30 years through current plans to electronically toll one lane in each direction. Combined with a long laundry list of other road and transit needs statewide, the findings add to already considerable pressure for lawmakers to approve some sort of transportation funding package in Olympia this session.