The State Auditor has laid out continued problems with how the State Social Services Department allocates federal funding. Auditor Tom Schweich says the Statewide Single Audit reveals the mismanagment of nearly a million dollars of federal funding for various programs including temporary aid to families with dependent children, child care, child support, elderly care and more.
He says the problems lie in the departments failure to collect documentation for services or follow up on eligibility.
“They have to be more careful,” he says. “They have to do the reassessments. In some cases they’ve had problems with subcontractors. Remember the Syncare problem they had? They farmed it out to a company that couldn’t do it, so now theyr’e back to not doing it.”
Last September, the Missouri Department of Health severed its relationship with Syncare, a third party vendor, after finding out the company had mis-handled assessments of the state’s 50,000 in-home Medicaid clients. The contract was for $5.5 million.
“There are solutions,” Schweich says. “You’ve got to find quality people either in your own department or quality subcontractors who can do it for you, but either way it has to be done or else you’re not going to be eligible for the [federal funding].”
He says these are continued problems with the department that keep showing up year after year, and that cuts in operating budgets are no excuse.
“Everyone has to do more with less right now.”
The biggest chunk of money unaccounted for is in a $660,000 grant the department awarded to the Human Development Corporation, which is now bankrupt. It’s the same company that couldn’t account for a different grant last year, but coincidentally, also for $660,000.
The total state budget for fiscal year 2012 was just over $23 billion. The statewide single audit focuses on the portion of the state’s budget,$12.73 billion, that comes from federal awards.
The audit also found the department paid $300,000 to providers who were not actively providing childcare for the children claimed. The same scenario applies to a program that provides in-home care to senior citizens. In either case, eligible recipients of those services drop off the list, but aren’t being properly reported, so the money continues to be paid out by Social Services.
“The federal Department of Health and Human Services determined the state failed to meet the overall work participation rates for federal fiscal years 2008 and 2009 and indicated the state was subject to penalties totaling $44.4 million,” the audit summary states. “The Department of Social Services has appealed this determination. In our last two audit reports we noted continued problems in meeting and reporting work participation requirements which could result in additional penalties.”
The Statewide Single Audit is conducted every year as required by federal law. The total state budget in fiscal year 2012 was just over $23 billion. Schweich’s office focused on $12.73 billion which comes from federal awards. Four state departments in Missouri spent 90 percent of the federal dollars.
Schweich says he’s pleased that his staff found no problems with other departments receiving federal money — Higher Education, Agriculture, Natural Resources, Public Safety, and Mental Health.
He says he would always rather deliver a good audit than a bad audit, saying, “We had several departments where there were no adverse findings, so that was good. They appeared to be speinding their federal funds properly.”
Schweich notes that the Department of Social Services was receptive to his office’s recommendations to rectify problematic areas in the way funds are managed.
AUDIO: Jessica Machetta reports [1:26]
View the complete report and Citizens Summary, click HERE.