From the Office of State Sen. J.B. Jennings:
Maryland’s Lack of Agency Oversight
The O’Malley Administration’s habit of ignoring state audits that expose waste, mishandling of funds and generally poor performance in several state agencies is mind-boggling. Indeed, government waste is alive and well in the O’Malley Administration, where millions of dollars are wasted every month. The Office of Legislative Audits conducts about 70 audits a year and makes more than 250 recommendations, which are often ignored and repeated in subsequent audits.
Pointing to just some of audit findings, the Department of Developmental Disabilities returned $25 million in unspent funds to the state, while 6,500 disabled remained stuck on the waiting list seeking care. According to an audit released last year, that same agency failed to collect $5.5 million in federal funds because it failed to file the proper forms, improperly spent $600,000 for motor vehicles and overpaid $400,000 for services that it never attempted to recoup.
A 2013 federal audit revealed the state Medicaid program had a 95% error rate in seeking reimbursement for room and board for developmentally disabled and thus, owes the federal government $21 million. The audit also showed a long list of unresolved deficiencies repeated annually, including questionable eligibility for beneficiaries of Medicaid, CHIP, TANF, foster care, student aid and home energy assistance. A recent audit found that for the last four years, the Department of Human Resources overspent its budget by $27 million and hid its overruns by improper accounting adjustments.
From January 2008 to August 2011, the Department of Health & Mental Hygiene paid $2.5 million in Medicaid funds to 323 deceased recipients. The Department also failed to inspect 757 (55%) of the state’s 1,364 licensed assisted living facilities and 75% of the state’s 197 facilities for the developmentally disabled – the state’s most vulnerable citizens.
The latest revelation in poor state agency oversight has cost more than money. It has cost the life of a 10-year old disabled child. The question raised is why the state continued to award millions dollar contracts to LifeLine, which provided round-the-clock intensive care to disabled foster children in group homes, after it had filed for bankruptcy and the state audit found it insolvent. The audit found that LifeLine had $13 in liabilities for every dollar in assets in 2012. The state prohibited LifeLine from taking on new residents until it presented a plan to correct its financial problems. The state accepted the LifeLine’s plan and in September 2013 the Board of Public Works, without discussion, awarded the company $4.9 million and a nearly three-year contract.
As taxpayers, we are entitled to an effectively operated state that shows by its actions, a basic responsibility to the people who depend on state services and the public whose taxes make those services possible.
Please do not hesitate to contact me on this or any other issue of concern to you. As always, I encourage and welcome your input.
Senator J.B. Jennings