The biggest cost of mismanagement is the loss of public trust
With newsworthy allegations of financial mismanagement at three state agencies in just the last month, it might surprise some to learn that many state agencies have internal oversight offices.
Clearly, these offices aren’t working as well as they should.
Since mid-June, we have seen reports the Environment Department might have to repay $6 million in possibly misspent federal grant money, the Human Services Department cut off payments to 15 behavioral health care providers that might have defrauded the Medicaid program, and the State Auditor ordered a special audit of the Public Education Department, which recently has both miscalculated special education spending and might have to repay the federal government $34 million and misallocated funds for high-risk students, shorting some and overpaying others.
If it looks like a mess, that’s because it is. And that’s your money getting such cavalier treatment.
The repercussions of the sloppy handling of taxpayer money are far-reaching. Obviously, it’s just plain wasteful and often the money cannot be recovered. Sometimes the issue never comes to light, and even when it does, agencies must invest substantial time and resources into repairing the problem. In almost every case, services suffer. In the case of the recent behavioral health debacle at the Human Services Department, the agency’s action could leave hundreds of patients without care. It is still unclear if the fraud allegations – made not by the department’s own inspector general but by a contract auditor – will stand up or justify the extreme response of cutting off payments to the provider. (The behavioral health providers accused of fiscal mismanagement have filed a lawsuit against the state, seeking an injunction to regain funding so they can remain in operation.)