$27.5 million lost in Maryland…oops?
“Doh!” This phrase is commonly yelped when one loses a phone, an earring or a set of keys. Marylanders may do a double “doh!” when they learn their state’s Department of Human Resources lost 42,000 state-owned items over the past decade. What’s the cost-of-loss for Maryland taxpayers? It’s estimated to be an astonishing $27.5 million.
The Washington Examiner detailed an audit of the Maryland Department of Human Resources’ inventory.
The audit, completed by Maryland’s independent Office of Legislative Audit, found that the Department of Human Resources:
Lost $9.6 [in] million federal funding for a program that keeps children out of foster care in fiscal 2009. The agency failed to submit proper paperwork to the federal government, and the state had to pick up the tab through its general fund.
Bought $850,000 of computers without asking the state for permission or opening the purchase to a competitive bid process, which is legally required for procurements worth more than $5,000, according to [Maryland Legislative Auditor] Myers. The auditors reject the agency’s argument that the purchase was authorized under an existing contract.
Failed to ensure that $30 million in grant expenditures and $6.1 million in legal expenditures were properly spent.
Gave 22 employees “unrestricted access” to a database used to provide people with public assistance including food stamps, foster care payments and child support payments — which totaled $753 million in fiscal 2009.
Additionally, The Washington Examiner reported:
In an auditors’ test of 47 pieces of equipment at the agency worth $64,000, 14 items totaling $24,000 were not recorded in the inventory records.
Prior to the completion of the audit, “There were no procedures to investigate and resolve missing items; rather, the items were simply noted in the inventory records as ‘not found,’” the audit stated.
31,000 of the 42,233 missing items have been recovered, according to Nancy Lineman, a spokeswoman for the Department of Human Resources.
Simple oversight could have prevented the unnecessary loss of $27.5 million taxpayer funded items. Other states take notice — poor oversight will no longer be tolerated. It’s time to get inventories into tip-top shape in order to trim budget gaps.