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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Nick Zerwas (R)

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RELEASE: Rep. Nick Zerwas Calls for Independent Audit of DHS Spending

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

St. Paul, MN—State Representative Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River, sent a letter to Governor Tim Walz Tuesday requesting an independent forensic audit of current spending at the Department of Human Services. The request follows a Pioneer Press report Monday evening that the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) will need to reimburse the federal government $48 million as a result of improper payments to institutions for mental disease. The $48 million figure is in addition to $25 million in overpayments to two Minnesota tribal nations. Rep. Deb Kiel, R-Crookston, House Republican Lead on the Health and Human Services Policy Division, also signed onto the letter.

Taken together, these two instances alone will cost Minnesota taxpayers $73 million.

“The dysfunction at DHS has reached a fever-pitch with news coming almost daily about resignations, improper payments, or cultural problems within the agency,” said Zerwas. “With Speaker Hortman’s unwillingness to engage in any meaningful oversight efforts, and the Administration’s refusal to be forthcoming about the countless issues at DHS, it is clear that the only path forward is an independent audit of DHS spending.”

In the mold of the Independent Expert Review of MNLARS completed on behalf of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Council on Information Technology, Zerwas is requesting that the Administration commission a full independent forensic audit of current DHS spending.

“Given the recent track record, I am confident that the results of a forensic audit would save taxpayers far more money than it would cost to perform,” continued Zerwas. “These issues need to be addressed head-on to avoid continued government waste while also ensuring that the state is meeting the needs of Minnesotans.”

Zerwas is requesting a response from the Walz Administration by Tuesday, September 10th. A copy of the letter is attached.