A new performance audit of the Utah Attorney General’s office points out several accountability problems.
The audit identifies areas where the Attorney General’s office could do better, especially in how it measures division and employee performance. It also revealed how the office’s lack of a unified case management system is contributing to dropped cases, missed deadlines, and wasted time searching through boxes full of documents.
Brian Tarbet is the chief civil deputy in the AG’s office. He says they’re already working on changes based on the audit’s recommendations. And, thanks to new money from the legislature, the state’s top legal agency will be implementing an electronic case management system by the end of the year.
“It will simply bring us into the 21st century where we need to be to do business," he says. "Paperless filing, electronic filing with the courts, all of these will be facilitated by the case management system.”
While the AG’s office is implementing most recommendations, a few require legislative action, like a proposal to require annual reports. But Senate President Wayne Niederhauser says he’s not sure that’s a good idea.
“Agencies go to a great length to produce them and then we never look at them," Niederhauser says. "So I just want to caution this whole idea about more reports. Let’s make it relevant. Let’s make sure the legislature is something they’re going to use, and use on a regular basis to budget and create policy.”
The audit criticized the AG’s office’s system for potential whistleblowers. It also found that staff salaries are on the lower end of the spectrum, but that it isn’t leading to high turnover.