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California State Auditor Report Number : 2015-504

Follow-Up—California Department of Justice
Delays in Fully Implementing Recommendations Prevent It From Accurately and Promptly Identifying All Armed Persons With Mental Illness, Resulting in Continued Risk to Public Safety


Status of Actions Taken in Response to Selected Recommendations in the California State Auditor’s Report 2013-103

As Table A shows, this follow-up audit found that the California Department of Justice (Justice) has not fully implemented several of the selected recommendations we reviewed from our October 2013 report that we believe will ensure it can accurately and promptly identify armed prohibited persons with mental illness. Specifically, these recommendations relate to Justice identifying all firearm owners in the State who are prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm due to a mental health-related event in their life, eliminating its daily and historical backlogs, as well as conducting outreach to potentially nonreporting or underreporting superior courts and mental health facilities.

Table A
Status of Actions Taken in Response to Selected Recommendations in the California State Auditor’s Report 2013-103
Recommendation Status Sections Where Recommendations and Actions Are Discussed
To ensure that it makes correct determinations about whether an individual is an armed prohibited person, by January 31, 2014, the California Department of Justice (Justice) should implement quality control procedures over the Armed and Prohibited Persons unit (APPS unit) staff determinations. These procedures should include periodic supervisory review of staff determinations to ensure that staff decisions correctly identify all armed prohibited persons. Partially Implemented* 11–13
To ensure that timely information is available for its efforts to identify armed prohibited persons and confiscate their firearms, Justice should manage staff priorities to meet both its statutory deadline for firearms background checks and its internal deadline for initially reviewing potential prohibited persons. Justice should report annually to the Legislature about the backlog of unreviewed potential prohibited persons and what factors have prohibited it from efficiently reviewing these persons. Pending 13–16
To ensure that potential armed prohibited person cases do not wait too long for their first review by the APPS unit, by December 31, 2013, Justice should revise its goal for the daily queue to a more challenging level of no more than a maximum of 400 to 600 cases. Justice should monitor its performance against this goal and manage staff priorities as needed to meet it. Partially Implemented 13–16
To ensure that it meets its goal of eliminating the historical backlog of reviewing firearms owners by the end of 2016, Justice should manage its staff resources to continually address the backlog, and should notify the Legislature if it believes that it will not be able to fully process this backlog by its goal date. To help guide this effort, Justice should establish benchmarks that will indicate whether it is on track to meet its goal. Partially Implemented 16–18
To ensure that it has the necessary information to identify armed prohibited persons with mental illness, Justice should coordinate with the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) at least once a year to share information about court‑reporting levels and to determine the need to distribute additional information to courts about reporting requirements and the manner in which to report. In coordinating with the AOC about potential underreporting, at a minimum, Justice should consider trends in the number of reports each court sends and the number of reports that it might expect to receive from a court given the court’s size, location, and reporting history. Whenever Justice identifies a court that it determines may not be reporting all required information, it should request that the court forward all required case information. Partially Implemented* 18–20
To ensure that it keeps an accurate and up-to-date list of all mental health facilities that are required to report individuals with mental illness, at least twice a year Justice should update its outreach list of mental health facilities by obtaining a list of facilities from the California Department of Health Care Services. Partially Implemented* 20–21
As soon as it identifies mental health facilities that have not yet received information about reporting requirements and the online reporting system, Justice should send these facilities the related information. Fully Implemented 20–21
To ensure that it continues to receive information from facilities that currently report individuals with mental illness and that should continue to report such individuals, by January 31, 2014, and at least twice a year thereafter, Justice should implement a review of the number of reports it receives from individual mental health facilities. These reviews should focus on identifying any significant drops in a facility’s reporting levels and include follow‑up with facilities that may require additional assistance in reporting. Partially Implemented* 22–23

Sources: Selected recommendations made in the report by the California State Auditor (state auditor) titled Armed Persons with Mental Illness: Insufficient Outreach From the Department of Justice and Poor Reporting From Superior Courts Limit the Identification of Armed Persons With Mental Illness, Report 2013-103 (October 2013) and the state auditor’s analysis of Justice’s actions related to the recommendations.

* The state auditor originally considered these recommendations to be fully implemented based on documentation submitted by Justice that indicated it had fully implemented our recommendation. However, when we conducted our follow-up audit we determined that Justice had not implemented the recommendations as its documentation led us to believe. Therefore, we have changed the status of these recommendations to be partially implemented.

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