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Archive for Thursday, February 26, 2004

Audit shows agencies’ personnel woes

February 26, 2004

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— An audit released Wednesday found serious personnel problems at the state's major public safety agencies.

"The problems we saw generally were caused by agencies not following state laws or their own policies," the Legislative Division of Post Audit said.

A survey of employees at the Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Adjutant General's Office and State Fire Marshal's Office also found serious morale problems, the audit said.

The most cited concern was that employees believed promotion practices were unfair and that some employees were improperly hired.

A random review of personnel files found numerous problems, especially in the Fire Marshal's Office.

Auditors said every workplace had unhappy workers, but this audit "found both high and widespread levels of dissatisfaction."

Administration Secretary Howard Fricke said he was glad to get the audit and that the administration had been "reviewing and changing personnel policies and processes with the goal of enhancing their value and effectiveness."

Other responses were not as welcoming.

KBI Director Larry Welch disputed the audit's allegation that it was in violation of state laws and regulations on hiring and promotions.

"The KBI's mission is to comply with and enforce state laws, not violate them," he said.

He said the examples of promoted employees contained in the report "were promoted because they met the minimum qualifications and possessed the job skills and knowledge needed to perform the work required."

Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, who is the adjutant general, said his office disagreed with the report's implication that it hired unqualified employees.

Joseph Olde, Kansas State Fire Marshal, said some of the state regulations on hiring were "at best confusing and at worst misleading."

William Seck, superintendent of the Kansas Highway Patrol, said the department would have new personnel polices in place by March 1 that should address most of the audit's concerns.

The audit can be accessed online at www.kslegislature. org/postaudit.

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