Performance Audit – Second Flaw

Washington State Auditor’s Office published the Performance Audit “Developmental Disabilities in Washington:  Increasing Access and Equality”.  It is very unfortunate that the Auditor’s researchers did not understand the issues and what the data represented.  Many significant issues were left out or misrepresented in this report.   There are many flaws in this report.

This flaw relates to the inclusion of and information provided with the National Core Indicators (NCI).  The National Core Indicators are a project of Human Service Research Institute (HSRI) one of the two agencies contracted by Washington State to perform this audit.

The audit states that the data from the NCI is from the years 2009-2010 and the “National Core Indicators (NCI) provides outcome measures used by 25 states to assess the performance of state developmental disabilities service systems and the experiences of individuals receiving support.”  The data reported in the Audit charts does not match with the 2009-2010 data which is recorded in the NCI reports.  Also, there are only 19 states involved in the survey for the year 2009-2010.  Please, as auditors, it is important to get your information and sources correct!

“To understand Washington’s performance from the perspective of those it serves, we compared Washington’s results for National Care Indicator (NCI) outcome measure surveys to other states’ results.”  (Kelley, 2013)  This quote leads one to believe that the NCI provide an overall view of the outcome measure by those who Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) serves.

Unfortunately, this if far from the truth.  Those who live in the supportive communities of the Residential Habilitation Centers or in nursing homes are not surveyed.  In addition to excluding this population, the survey itself is in two phases.  If a person is unable to answer the questions in phase 1, they are eliminated.  Those remaining are advanced to phase 2 of the survey. Depending upon the year the survey was administered and if proxy answers were allowed, the actual percentage of valid surveys changed.  For the year 2009, an average of 68% were allowed from phase one, of which 98% of those were valid in phase 2.

This means that only 61.7% of those surveyed had valid responses in the year 2009-2010.

In addition to the issues of percentages of survey answers which are valid, it needs to be noted that NCI uses a minimum sample size of 400 to be valid. They do include states which did not meet this number for a 95% confidence level.  One needs to understand this when comparing states and when looking at the national average.  In 2009-2010, 4 of the 19 states did not meet this sample size to ensure a 95% confidence level but were included in the national averages.

Washington State survey had about 623 for phase one and 395 for phase two – which means that about 63.4% of the surveys were valid.  This is difficult to accurately count due to inaccurate information provided from the audit and limited availability of data from NCI.

These surveys are not helpful, particularly when they are not reported accurately, to assess the needs of our population with ID/D.  Excluding whole segments of this population from even participating is an indicator that those who cannot speak for themselves are not valued.  All people matter and all need to be heard – stop excluding and dehumanizing those who are unable to communicate by speaking.  Just because their voice cannot be heard (or understood) does not mean that they cannot chose and make decisions by other means.

We need to listen to those who cannot speak for themselves too!

National Core Indicators – charts which highlight the misrepresentation used by the State Auditors.

Human Services Research Institute. (2009-2010). NCI Charts. Retrieved from National Core Indicators: http://www.nationalcoreindicators.org/charts/

Kelly, Troy. (2013). Developmental Disabilities in Washington: Increasing Access and Equality. Permormance Audit Report No. 1009938, Washington State Auditor.

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