Monday, August 31, 2009

Wagner on Waste

State Auditor General, Jack Wagner said last month that he is running for governor. I'm not sure if that is an official campaign announcement or not but he does have what looks like a campaign site up,

A week or so ago his office sent out a press release that I'm just now getting to. Here is the gist:

Auditor General Jack Wagner said today that a Department of Public Welfare program that provides cash assistance to welfare recipients seeking employment was rife with mismanagement and poor oversight, creating an environment for potential fraud and abuse that could cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.

In a special performance audit released today, Wagner’s auditors found insufficient documentation to justify 45 percent of the 3,201 special allowance payments examined. Specifically, auditors found insufficient documentation for 163 recipients totaling $564,700 in cash for clothing, child care, tools, transportation and other expenses.

Wagner said his concern over potential fraud stemmed, in part, from the fact that DPW has acknowledged potentially fraudulent handling of special allowance funds in Philadelphia and reported cases to the Office of Inspector General for further investigation.

Here are two examples cited:
Auditors detected instances of potential fraud in at least three counties:

* In a Delaware County assistance office, an invoice for tools from a beauty school was altered, changing the amount from $321 to $821.
* In Philadelphia County, the father of five children of a Philadelphia recipient received child care special allowances totaling $7,367 to babysit his own children by changing his name and SSN.

More general figures were also provided, including:
26 recipients received special allowance payments totaling $40,800 for equipment/tools with no supporting documentation found in the case files.

I can think of a Philadelphia mansion the office might search, one that seems to absorb tools purchased with other people's money.

The document also provided a county by country breakdown of where the special allowance payments are spent across the state. SEPA gets half of it (49.53%), as follows:

Buck Co / $3,873,434.72 / 1.21% of state total
Delaware Co / $10,312,250.87 / 3.22%
Montgomery Co / $5,396,105.76 / 1.69%
Philadelphia / $138,963,199.47 / 43.41%

A complete copy of the audit report, including DPW’s response, can be found at

He also has some suggestions on how to balance the budget.

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