After adverse audit findings such as poor oversight of property and lax record keeping of tax dollars, state lawmakers are looking to prioritize some of the focus of the Illinois State Police.
The Legislative Audit Commission heard details of a compliance audit of Illinois State Police for the previous two fiscal years. In one finding, auditors noted $2.3 million of unknown activity. ISP was unable to identify the activity, auditors said.
ISP Director Brendan Kelly on Thursday said staffing remains an issue.
“You can improve things with technology, you can streamline the statutes and focus on our core missions, but at the end of the day you’ve got to have human beings that are good employees that are going to get this work done,” Kelly said.
State Rep. Fred Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates, said he’s drafting legislation to help alleviate some of that by changing the agency’s focus, like investigating Medicaid fraud.
“Move those responsibilities from the state police over to the [Attorney General’s] office with the hopes that you can get more people to do the work that you need to be done in your department,” Crespo said.
Another audit finding of the 32 adverse findings was poor controls over equipment, including 92% of tested items that were lost or missing possibly having confidential information stored on them.
One finding caught state Rep. Mark Batinick’s attention.
“I just found it interesting that you guys were still using Windows 7, which I don’t know, came out in 2005, 2009,” said Batinick, R-Plainfield.
Kelly said that they’re continuously evolving.
“We have to continuously work and continuously improve from where we are right now,” Kelly said. “We’re better than we were a year ago, but we still have much effort to do on that front.”
Other audit findings were manuals not updated since the year 2000, weaknesses in cyber security programs and more. Not covered in the audit, as it happened after the end of the audit cycle, is a recent breach of ISP’s website for gun owner IDs which impacted data for more than 2,000 gun owners.
Kelly said ISP will work with the Legislature to find the necessary resources to keep up on the department’s cyber security needs and the department is implementing or are implementing audit recommendations.
But, many findings have been repeatedly found audit after audit.
State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, was critical of the backlogged applications for Firearm Owner’s Identification Cards, which another audit found was pervasive with ISP’s management. Some people waited a year or more to get their FOID cards so they could exercise their Second Amendment Rights.
Rose asked what they’re supposed to tell constituents.
“If a trooper pulls them over on the streets, they’re expected to answer that ticket in compliance with the law,” Rose said. “But then the same agency that’s expecting the citizen to follow the traffic laws isn’t following its own law in response to the timeline of issuing FOID and [Concealed Carry Licenses].”
Rose said it seems all government “is collapsing, and no agency works.” He and others noted the continued problems with the Illinois Department of Employment Security in regards to unemployment and unemployment fraud.
For the FOID issues, Kelly said “it’s unacceptable to me that we have not complied with these laws for over a decade.”
Kelly encouraged more audits of the agency to ensure it continued to improve.