State Auditor Tom Schweich today sent out a press release announcing his office has conducted its first audit follow-up, related to the Department of Mental Health audit report issued December 2010.
“I am grateful for the cooperation and enthusiasm we have seen at the Department of Mental Health,” Auditor Tom Schweich says in the release. “Although there is still work to be done, it is obvious that the department has taken substantial steps to implement the recommendations made by my office and improvements have been made.”
In February, Auditor Schweich announced the creation of AFTER, or the Auditor’s Follow-up Team to Effect Recommendations, to ensure audit recommendations are implemented in a timely manner. The state auditor’s office works with audited entities to establish a reasonable timeline for the implementation of audit recommendations, with a particular focus on those findings requiring immediate management attention. Darrell Moore, the auditor’s chief litigation counsel, leads the AFTER effort to ensure that audit recommendations are implemented according to the agreed upon timeline.
“I believe our first audit follow-up was very successful thanks to the positive response we have seen from the Department of Mental Health,” Moore says. “Going forward, the AFTER program will continue to ensure that audited entities are held accountable and make the changes necessary for the taxpayers of Missouri.”
In the 2010 audit of the Mental Health Department, the auditor’s office found that for the three years ended June 30, 2010, the department paid employees approximately $47.8 million in overtime department-wide. At that time, the State Auditor’s Office recommended that the department do a cost-analysis to determine if overtime payments were the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars. The State Auditor also recommended that the department create more stringent overtime policies.
The department conducted the recommended cost-analysis of overtime payments and concluded that effective utilization of overtime saves taxpayers more than $2 million annually versus hiring additional employees. The department also implemented new overtime policies which were adopted in December 2010 and April 2011. However, it appears further efforts are needed to ensure all operating facilities are complying with the new policies.
The state auditor reported that Mental Health has also continued to place an emphasis on responding to complaints of client neglect and abuse in a timely manner. This included increased monitoring of the investigation process and documentation of legitimate reasons for delays. Through these efforts, Mental Health reported an increased compliance rate of 99.8 percent, the auditor says.
The auditor’s office also found that the department has taken corrective actions in contract monitoring related to the BRIDGES program.
The AFTER program assigned a status for each of the following recommendations made in the December 2010 audit:
Overtime-Related Issues: In Progress
Complaint Investigations: Implemented
Monitoring of BRIDGES Program Contract: Implemented
As part of the follow-up program, the state auditor’s office will publish an annual status report to track implementation of audit recommendations.
To view the complete audit, visit www.auditor.mo.gov/press/2010-167.htm.
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