Performance audit findings on boards that conduct hearings on medical mistakes

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Doctors sometimes make mistakes, and those mistakes can have life-or-death consequences for patients. Washington, like every other state, uses boards to license and regulate doctors and other healthcare providers, and can impose discipline on providers.

The Washington State Auditor’s Office recently released a performance audit that looked at two of these boards. The Medical Quality Assurance Commission (MQAC) is one of the largest, regulating 31,000 medical doctors and physician assistants. The Board of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery (BOMS) is one of the smallest, regulating about 1,800 osteopathic doctors and physician assistants, but was included because medical and osteopathic doctors often do the same work in the same settings. Continue reading

The State Auditor’s Office is partnering up to simplify your annual reporting requirements

wa_highway_emptyThe State Auditor’s Office and the Department of Transportation (WSDOT) have been working together supported by the County Road Administration Board and the Washington State Association of Counties to eliminate duplicate reporting. Currently, counties and cities in Washington State are required to submit an annual street report to WSDOT in June. The data reported in this street report is duplicative of revenues, expenditures and debt information reported to the State Auditor’s Office in the annual financial report submission due at the end of May. Many counties and cities have requested to only submit this information once; we are working to make that happen. Continue reading

Performance audit highlights ways governments can reduce printing costs

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Large-scale printing

Information can be transmitted, shared and read electronically around the world almost instantaneously. However, even as information has become increasingly digital, printed materials still play an important role in business and government operations. The Washington State Auditor’s Office published an audit October 31, 2016, that focused on the state’s printing services. The audit followed up on a 2011 audit that made recommendations to reduce the state’s printing costs. While the audit focused on the state’s centralized printing services provider, Printing & Imaging (P&I) within the Department of Enterprise Services (DES), its findings and recommendations may also be helpful to many other governments as they try to minimize spending. Continue reading

We value local government feedback

The Budgeting, Accounting, and Reporting System (BARS) roundtables are underway in various locations all over the state.  Discussion in these free three hour meetings presented by the State Auditor’s Office, includes many topics such as: Information on changes to the BARS manual,   a preview of requirements for upcoming GASB standards, demonstration of the Financial Analysis Tool (FIT), and discussion of other valuable resources and trainings free to local governments. We held the roundtables last year all across the state, and were very pleased to see the high turnout and interaction from participants. This year, we changed the roundtable format slightly to encourage even more in-depth interaction, as we value your opinions.img_5520

Roundtables are a great opportunity for you to ask questions and network with peers. Plan to come and share your ideas and suggestions. We look forward to hearing from you about how we can better be of help and improve to our services.  The roundtables continue through December 15, 2016 in various locations and space is available so please  check the upcoming schedule and sign up for one near you.

Working together for workforce sustainability

wfsustainabilityThe Washington Finance Officers Association (WFOA) has partnered with the Washington State Auditor’s Office for over 60 years to promote excellence in governmental finance through leadership, education and communication for the public benefit.

As part of the goals set by the Board for 2015-2016, this past year WFOA and our Office have partnered to build a sustainable workforce in government finance through recruitment efforts that promote college student awareness of the professional opportunities in government finance.

Together representatives from WFOA and the State Auditor’s Office have attended various college career events across the state as part of this effort.  On October 12, 2016 WFOA and representatives from our Office attended the St. Martin’s College Career Fair in Olympia. (Pictured  is WFOA Board member Stacie Tellers and State Auditor’s Office Recruiters Jon Howard and Sara Heath.)

#CyberAware: Creating a strong password

businessman pressing cyber security button on virtual screensPasswords are an everyday part of life whether you’re logging into your work, bank or social media accounts.  You should do everything you can to protect your passwords and use different passwords for different accounts as described in an earlier tip regarding “password reuse.” More importantly, knowing what makes a weak and strong password can reduce the chance a hacker or unauthorized user can guess or crack your password.  At the State Auditor’s Office, our IT department requires a minimum of ten characters that includes at least one upper and lower case letter, a number, a special character. Also, no reuse of previous passwords. Continue reading

Survey shows states are concerned about cyber security, and making progress

Hacking Bypass Security

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) conducts an annual survey of state Chief Information Officers to learn about the top policy and technology issues state governments face. State Chief Information Officers (CIOs) have ranked cyber security as the top priority on every survey since 2014. At the State Auditor’s Office, we are also concerned about cyber security. To help state agencies and local governments protect their IT systems and data, we conduct IT security performance audits designed to assess opportunities for improvement. We plan to continue these audits to strengthen the security posture of our state and local governments.

In 2016, the Deloitte-NASCIO cyber security study was completed. This study surveyed states’ Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) for their perspectives and insights cyber security issues. Interestingly, some of what the state CISOs reported in the survey aligned with what state agencies reported to our Office during our IT security performance audits. Specifically, they named adequate resources, including funding and staffing for IT security, as a significant challenge. However, the study’s results indicate CISOs and CIOs are having a strong, positive impact on cyber security, which is encouraging.

#CyberAware about Ransomware

ransomwareImagine your local government’s files and documents held for ransom. The risk is greater than you think, with the number of cyber-attacks by ransomware increasing rapidly.

Ransomware, including Cryptolocker and its variants, is malicious software that encrypts files on a computer as well as files on the network that the user has access to.  Once the files are encrypted, the only way to open them again is with the encryption key. Victims must pay a ransom, usually in a virtual currency such as Bitcoin, to the attacker to obtain the key to their locked files.  Continue reading