Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Opinion

March 28, 2012

Problems persist

Little change seen by audit of oversight of federal funds

ASHLAND — Auditor Adam Edelen’s biggest problem with his office’s newest report on oversight of federal grants provided to state agencies is that it reads too much like previous reports.

Edelen Tuesday released an annual financial review that found recurring shortcomings in oversight of federal grants.

“Many of the findings in the audit are repeat findings from past years and that is disappointing,” Edelen said in a statement. “I urge those to carefully consider the recommendations to ensure compliance with federal grant requirements.”

When the same problems keep popping up in audits, it is a clear indication that the audits are not being taken seriously and that problems  revealed by the audits are not being corrected. That’s a rather clear indication of poor management of federal funds and how they are being spent by state government.

The review by Edelen’s office found “serious” weaknesses in oversight of federal funding to the Kentucky Department of Military Affairs, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Edelen released the second part of an annual state audit that showed instances in which state agencies hadn’t properly monitored how portions of the $11 billion in federal funds were spent in 2011.

“Kentucky has a responsibility to adequately oversee the expenditure of federal dollars directed at the Commonwealth,” Edelen said. “The failure to do so jeopardizes the continued availability of much-needed resources in the state and increases the risk for waste and abuse of taxpayers’ money.”

The audit noted nine “significant deficiencies” in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and questioned the agency’s oversight contracts in the Department for Medicaid Services, a $6 billion program that provides health care for low-income Kentuckians.

“I’m particularly concerned about the failure of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to properly monitor and enforce its contracts with third-party contractors,” Edelen said. “Government can outsource its functions but not its oversight responsibility.”

With rising Medicaid costs straining the state budget, it is critical that money spent on Medicaid be spent wisely. But it apparently is not so critical to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services that it did not do more to correct it the problems revealed in the last audit conducted when Crit Luallen was auditor.

The bottom line is this: At a time when both the federal and state budgets are being cut, money is being wasted and problems are not being corrected. That needs to stop. Good management of tax dollars is more important than ever.

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