Audit of Local Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Grant ProgramEXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Pursuant to House Joint Memorial 93 (HJM 93) the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) performance auditors have conducted an audit of the New Mexico Local DWI Grant Fund Program which is administered by the Department of Finance and Administration, Local Government Division (DFA/LGD). In accordance with HJM 93 the primary purpose of this audit was to determine:
the number of people the program has served;
the success of the Program in limiting alcohol abuse and DWI curtailment; and
the existence of and/or effectiveness of follow-up programs and aftercare for participants.
Findings and observations are grouped in three parts. Parts one and two address issues related to program oversight and results from field reviews of local programs. Part three discusses LFC auditor analysis of LDWI Program evaluations, studies and statistical data performed and/or provided by other organizations.
This review was not designed to assess the effectiveness of the overall state DWI curtailment initiatives and efforts. Because of magnitude and complex issues and problems associated with such initiatives and efforts, an audit of this type would have required substantially greater resources than were available. The two main criteria used for conducting this audit were HJM 93 and Section 11-6-A-1 to 11-6-A-5, NMSA (Laws 1993, Chapter 65) which charges DFA/LGD with responsibility for management of the program.
This audit includes the following reportable findings and observations:
Although DWI continues to be a major concern in New Mexico, data for the calendar years 1994 to 2001 shows some positive trends. Alcohol involved motor vehicle crashes in New Mexico have declined approximately 34 percent from calendar years 1994 through 2001. Crashes with injuries and crashes with fatalities have declined 34 and 11 percent, respectively.
A strategic plan which clearly and comprehensively describes the implementation and expected progress of the LDWI Grant Fund Program has not been implemented.
A formula driven methodology that can support and document allocations determined by DFA/LGD does not exist. The grant review process is highly subjective and funding recommendations do not correspond with application review scores.
Training and technical assistance (T/TA) to build capacity at the local level has been inadequate.
Approval of budget adjustments is not well documented and often very informal due to limitations in staffing levels, inadequate supervision and inconsistent file management.
Few site visits are made to local programs and are not in-depth.
DFA/LGD and the LDWI Grant Fund Programs have not been sufficiently involved in the driver license revocation process.
The quality and quantity of data that is collected by the local programs is not sufficient to enable adequate assessment of the LDWI Grant Fund Program. In fiscal year 2000, screenings of only 58 percent of convicted DWI offenders were reported by the local programs.
Funding to the DFA/LGD for program administration and oversight is insufficient to fulfill its statutory obligations.
Most LDWI Grant Fund Programs do not maintain standardized written policies and controls that adequately illustrate administrative procedures and minimize the risk of improprieties. They also do not have standardized methods for reviewing payments. Invoices are often paid without confirmation that goods or services have been received.
Most LDWI Grant Fund Programs do not adequately monitor contractors, sub-grantees or other recipients of local DWI Grant Fund monies.
Many Local Grant Councils have administrative and procedural problems.
Despite the many problems that have plagued the statewide DWI Grant Fund Programs, some local governments have implemented effective DWI Grant Programs in their communities.
Recommendations reported in a DWI Grant Program Evaluation Report by the University of New Mexico (UNM) Institute of Social Research (ISR) include: increasing DFA/LGD staffing and funding; continuing standardization of some program aspects; designing and monitoring standards for Local DWI Program supervision; and standardizing and expanding data collection procedures.
A July 2002 report by the UNM Institute of Social Research (ISR) on Best Practices and the State of New Mexico discusses effects of general laws and specific sanctions on the problem of DWI. According to the report, various research studies have concluded that the three legislative actions found to be most effective at preventing and deterring DWI are raising the legal drinking age to 21 years; lowering the legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) to .08; and maintaining appropriate tax levels for sales of alcoholic beverages. These legislative actions have already been taken in New Mexico. The report also discusses the effectiveness of various specific sanctions such as drivers license suspensions, jail sentences, probation and treatment programs.
Little progress has been made toward addressing issues identified in the New Mexico County Local DWI Grant Program Evaluation report issued by the Rocky Mountain Group, Inc.(RMG) in December 1996. Then, as now, the data collection process in each county vary significantly and often does not lend itself to in-depth comparison across counties; tracking and data collection are inconsistent and inadequate; and Local DWI Grant Programs are not able to demonstrate program impact.
The San Juan County Treatment Program is very expensive, although it appears to have some positive impact on rearrest rates for first and second time offenders. A comprehensive cost/benefit analysis has not been performed.
Nationally, The number of crashes in which the driver was alcohol-impaired has fluctuated from year to year but has risen slightly from 1996 to 2000. Driver-impaired crashes in which there were fatalities has decreased slightly in the same time-period.
The Findings and Recommendations Section of this report includes recommendations specific to all issues and concerns. The following is a generalized list of recommendations:
Establish a long-term strategic plan that clearly identifies milestones and time-lines.
Develop an effective grant proposal scoring mechanism that objectively rates and ranks each proposal.
Strengthen the Administrative Handbook to provide better guidance to local DWI Coordinators and establish orientation and on-going training curricula for DFA/LGD program managers and local program coordinators.
More closely monitor program expenditures; develop a formal process for approving budget adjustments; and implement a standard file management system.
Establish a site visit schedule that provides sufficient time for program managers to visit each local program at least once during each fiscal year.
Work with other state agencies and local law enforcement to solve problems related to poor attendance by local law enforcement officials at license revocation hearings.
Continue efforts to overcome the problems related to the high percentage of unscreened and/or unreported screening DWI offenders.
Increase funding to the DFA/LGD for program management and oversight.
Develop guidelines that establish standardized written policies and controls of administrative and fiscal procedures.
Develop a training curriculum for local program coordinators that covers a broad spectrum of issues related to program management.
Perform a cost-benefit analysis on San Juan County Treatment Facility to determine efficiency and economy of program.
The number of persons served by the program and the success of the program in limiting alcohol abuse and DWI cannot be determined because of the inadequacy of documentation to enable such determination. Although some local programs provide treatment for DWI offenders, very few provide follow-up and aftercare for those that complete treatment.
Since the program's inception, the problem of insufficient staffing and other administrative resources has resulted in deficient program oversight by DFA/LGD. Many local programs are plagued with administrative, programmatic and financial accountability problems. Despite these problems, a few counties have established and maintained effective programs.
The significant decrease in alcohol related crashes, including crashes with injuries and fatalities since the inception of the program is a good indicator of overall DWI problem improvement. Credit for such decrease, however, must be shared by the many components and factors that contribute to DWI curtailment, including but not limited to the media, law enforcement, judicial system, MADD and various other public and private entities. Although it can be speculated that the LDWI Grant Fund Program has also contributed to this improvement, by virtue of the $64 million that has been expended towards this end, the extent of such cannot be measured due to non-existence of adequate documentation.
Full Report (w/Exhibits)
A. Summary LDWI Grant Expenditures
B. Best Practices Report by Institute of Social Research
C. New Mexico DWI Arrests Statistics
D. New Mexico Alcohol Related Crashes Statistics
E. Department Response and Funding Proposal