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Saturday, June 21, 2003



Audit faults DOE
budget analyses

Methods for gauging budget
effectiveness are deemed inaccurate


The measures that the Department of Education uses to determine the effectiveness of its budget "are irrelevant, inaccurate and ambiguous ... and are based on assumptions, estimates and unverified data," a state audit says.

The department treats the mandatory state planning, programming and budgeting (PPB) process as "just another reporting requirement," said state Auditor Marion Higa in a report on her fiscal accountability audit of the DOE.

"As a result, legislators are denied potentially valuable information, and some may be basing their fiscal decisions on flawed data," Higa said yesterday.

Her report said the department's disregard of the PPB process is demonstrated by its failure to develop components that are essential for the system to work.

The department has not oriented its program managers' focus from reporting requirements to program objectives as intended by the PPB process; program managers lack adequate training; and there is no comprehensive program analysis and evaluation system, Higa said.

She faulted the state's Department of Budget & Finance for contributing to the DOE's problem because it has not fulfilled its responsibility of providing systematic analysis and assisting departments.

Higa also faulted the PPB system, which she said could be modified within the current framework to function as a performance-based budgeting system.

The DOE audit included a survey of state lawmakers, half of whom reported they "do not find the department's measures of effectiveness useful when making fiscal decisions or assessing alternative options and funding requests," Higa's report said.

"In addition, more than half disagreed with the notion that the department's measures are clear, unambiguous and reflect relevant achievements," the report said.

Schools Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto agreed the PPB system should be updated and acknowledged the need for clear, appropriate, objective and quantifiable performance measures but disagreed with some of the audit's findings.

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