State agencies are supposed to get physicals every three years in the form of assessments by the Washington State Quality Award program. But most have never done it, and Gov. Chris Gregoire‘s budget office now says they can’t afford to do it this year either.
Two Democratic legislators running for statewide office want a second opinion. Rep. Mark Miloscia of Federal Way and Sen. Jim Kastama of Puyallup have asked Attorney General Rob McKenna to declare whether agencies have to follow this kind of a mandate from the Legislature.
Miloscia has already drawn a conclusion — that skipping the examinations violates state law. “This is why voters hate government,” Miloscia said.
Miloscia is leaving the House to run for state auditor after a legislative career spent pursuing these kinds of assessments and audits with a tenacity bordering on the obsessive. It’s a perennial issue as well for Kastama, who’s running for secretary of state.
Agencies were supposed to apply starting in 2008 but Miloscia said Gregoire successfully proposed delaying the first assessments until 2012, then tried to push it back two more years in this year’s state budget. Lawmakers deleted that delay, but budget director Marty Brown wrote in a memo that agencies are not required to perform the checks this year.
Lawmakers didn’t provide the money for the examinations. They ordered them done “within available funds,” and Brown wrote that after all the administrative cuts lawmakers have made, state government doesn’t have the funds.
Brown said the state would continue with other kinds of performance measurements involved in the Priorities of Government budgeting process, the Government Management and Accountability Program that reviews state programs, and efforts to implement “Lean” management principles used by such companies as Boeing.
Below is the memo from the governor’s office and the letter to the attorney general’s office.