Minn. GOP Demands Solutions to Track Taxpayer Dollars
Updated: 07/21/2013 8:33 AM KSTP.com
By: Stephen Tellier
Audit finds the potential for problems at the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
Year after year, audit after audit, issue after issue - and still, there have been few changes at the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
Now, some lawmakers are lobbying the governor himself, demanding he tackle the issues head-on.
The audit, which came out last week, found "significant, ongoing noncompliance" with federal requirements at DHS, and a failure to make sure Minnesotans who receive welfare and child care assistance are actually eligible for that aid.
In short, DHS isn't doing a good enough job keeping track of your taxpayer dollars.
"These problems have been exposed over at least the last two years, and they should be fixed," said Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake.
Benson is the ranking Republican on the Health and Human Services Policy Committee. On Friday, she sent a letter to Gov. Mark Dayton, urging him to do more.
"The Dayton administration doesn't seem to be taking it seriously -- kind of lighting a fire under people and saying, 'Let's resolve this. Let's make sure that we protect taxpayer dollars,'" Benson said.
She said she worries that if the issues at DHS aren't fixed fast, more taxpayer money could be at risk.
"If you don't have internal controls designed to prevent waste, fraud and abuse, mistakes happen," Benson said.
KSTP reached out to the governor's office for a response to Benson's letter, but were referred back to DHS, which provided a statement.
"The auditor's report did not identify any wasteful spending or misspent dollars and found that we are largely in compliance with all requirements related to the federally-funded programs we administer. We agree with the audit's conclusions about the areas that need improvement and are moving forward to ensure these issues are resolved," said Chuck Johnson, DHS Deputy Commissioner.
Some want the governor to make sure that happens.
"If we can't be certain that the money is being spent in the best way possible, then we have a problem that all Minnesotans should be concerned about, and the governor most of all," Benson said.
DHS has acknowledged the issues, and has set deadlines for when they must be corrected by. But the department has made similar promises in the past and failed to live up to them.