Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Last week we lost three heroic Minnesotans in a tragic helicopter crash near St. Cloud. Our prayers tonight are with the families of the crew members and their fellow brothers and sisters in the Minnesota National Guard. May they rest in peace.
Last Monday, the Minnesota House Health and Human Services Finance Committee held its first hearing on the problems that have plagued the Department of Human Services this summer and fall. The agency, which has seen its commissioner and assistant commissioner resign this year, is in disarray.
Here’s a recap of what we’ve learned about DHS in the last six months:
- The Legislative Auditor reported on “pervasive fraud” in the childcare system. The DHS inspector general was placed on investigate leave for her role in this – and it still getting paid.
- Employees have been fired, mistreated, or retaliated against for raising concerns about agency practices.
- DHS owes the federal government $30 million due to overpayments to two tribal governments.
- DHS overpaid chemical dependency providers, which costs taxpayers $70 million.
- DHS paid out $3 million for people who were already dead.
- DHS broke the law more than 200 times on contracts totaling more than $52 million.
- DHS is now being scrutinized for not accommodating employees with disabilities.
Those issues are just the tip of the iceberg. A full deep-dive audit is necessary to get to the root of these problems and the commissioner was very reluctant to agree to this despite Governor Walz calling for a forensic audit twice in the last year.
It was also highly disappointing to hear no one had been held accountable for the mistakes revealed this year and that it certainly didn't seem like accountability was coming.
In order to fix DHS we need to hold those accountable who mismanaged over $100 million in taxpayer dollars and make sure it never happens again. I will continue to join my colleagues, and Governor Walz, in calling for a full audit in addition to bringing accountability to the agency.