A Performance Audit
An Audit Report on Complaint Processing at the Public Utility Commission of Texas
The Public Utility Commission of Texas (Commission) has processes and related controls to help ensure that complaints are handled in accordance with applicable requirements for informal and formal complaints. Most utility customer interactions are handled by the Commission through its process for informal complaints, and auditors identified opportunities for the Commission to improve that process.
The Commission has a process for informal complaints to help ensure that it collects appropriate documentation and reviews and resolves complaints in accordance with applicable requirements. However, the Commission should ensure that its complaints processes are consistent with Texas Administrative Code requirements. Additionally, the Commission should consider enhancing its process to help ensure that customers receive resolutions for instances in which the utility company does not respond to an informal complaint.
The Commission has a process to review formal complaints, which are legal proceedings, in accordance with applicable requirements.
The Commission has certain information technology controls for both applications it uses for complaint processing. However, auditors identified weaknesses in the Commission’s user access controls for those applications.
The Commission Had a Process for Informal Complaints to Ensure That Those Complaints Were Handled in Accordance with Applicable Requirements
Auditors determined that the Commission:
- Appropriately classified utility customer interactions as either informal complaints or inquiries.
- Appropriately determined whether it had jurisdiction to address customer concerns.
- Properly classified customer interactions by priority.
- Ensured that it collected required customer information.
- Cited applicable statute in its complaint resolutions.
- Attempted to resolve complaints within 35 days of receipt as required.
- Notified parties/complainants of resolutions and the justifications.
Auditors identified opportunities for the Commission to improve certain parts of its process for informal complaints. For example, the Commission should ensure that its process for informal complaints is consistent with Texas Administrative Code requirements, and it should improve its quality review process to ensure that data in its Complaints Database was entered appropriately. In addition, the Commission should consider enhancing its process to help ensure that customers receive resolutions for instances in which the utility company does not respond to an informal complaint. Strengthening those aspects of its process for informal complaints can help ensure that the Commission consistently achieves its mission to protect and assist utility customers in resolving customer complaints.
The Commission Had a Process for Formal Complaints to Ensure That Those Complaints Were Handled in Accordance With Applicable Requirements
The Commission had a process to review utility customers’ formal complaints in accordance with applicable requirements. Auditors tested all 29 formal complaints received from September 1, 2017, through December 31, 2018, and determined that the Commission:
- Obtained complete information about complainants and complaints.
- Safeguarded personally identifiable information.
- Opened formal complaints appropriately.
- Verified that complainants had standing to file a formal complaint.
- Notified the parties appropriately of the final disposition of the case.
The Commission Had Certain Information Technology Controls Over Its Complaints Systems, But It Should Improve Access Controls for Those Systems
The Commission had certain information technology (IT) controls for both its Complaints Database and Agency Information System (AIS). Specifically, the Commission had:
- Certain policies and procedures in place to help ensure IT security.
- Appropriate application controls over key fields and data in the Complaints Database and AIS.
- Appropriate user access to servers.
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