Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

October 14, 2013

Costly bungling

Audit: Agency errors cost state $5.5 million

How can it be that a state agency fails to collect $5.5 million in federal funds? At the same time, the agency overpaid $400,000 for services that it never attempted to recoup.

Those were among the findings of an audit of the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration.

The Baltimore Sun reports that auditors found that the  agency failed to collect $5.5 million in federal funds because it did not file the proper forms, improperly spent $600,000 on motor vehicles, and overpaid $400,000 for services that it never attempted to recover.

On the defensive, the agency has said it will make “fundamental changes” to correct the problems.

The DDA has a budget of nearly $1 billion and helps about 8,000 Marylanders a month live in long-term care facilities or receive services at home. Nearly 5,000 people receive help with employment and about 7,000 receive other support services, according to the agency.

Among the audit findings:

• In 2011 and 2012, officials failed to seek federal reimbursement for some services, costing taxpayers $5.5 million.

• The agency never recovered another $800,000 in Medicaid claims that should have been paid by the federal government.

• Administrators spent $610,000 to buy 23 motor vehicles for clients without evidence that they were eligible for the emergency help.

• The agency failed to bill local jurisdictions at least $1.4 million for services.

Taxpayers can only hope that the O’Malley administration keeps its thumb on the DDA. These are the worst of times for state agencies to be lax and irresponsible in how state funds are handled.

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