Two state workers for the Department of Health and Human Services have been let go in wake of an internal review of why the department failed to claim nearly two million dollars in federal reimbursement.
A state audit first disclosed the problem. It uncovered that DHHS failed to secure $1.8 million in federal reimbursement funds for programs dating back to 1996.
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DHHS CEO Kerry Winterer says the department launched its own investigation after a state audit disclosed the problem.
“It came to our attention and when we realized that we’d missed some of these deadlines, we began to look at who might be responsible and it caused us to take some action,” Winterer told Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.
A team of state auditors discovered DHHS failed to request more than $650,000 in federal reimbursement for an adoption assistance program. The initial $656,489 in lost federal reimbursement would have helped fund the state adoption assistance program in 2006. The state audit discovered DHHS failed to request federal reimbursement for adoption assistance programs in 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2006. The audit stretched back to 1996 to uncover $46,230 in federal reimbursement the state failed to secure for its Child Support Enforcement program.
A state cannot file for reimbursement from the federal government after five years.
Winterer says one of his priorities as CEO has been better financial accountability.
“We take every dollar that we’re responsible for very seriously,” according to Winterer. “And, in this case, there was an issue here in terms of not timely applying for the reimbursement and we decided it required some action on our part.”
Winterer says DHHS now has an internal auditor, “…whose job it is to implement proper accounting procedures and ensure full cooperation with the many audits performed on agency programs.”
A copy of the management letter, including the response from DHHS, can be found on the State Auditor’s website under “What’s New”: auditors.nebraska.gov
Jane Monnich, KLIN, contributed to this report.