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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: June 20, 2016 10:15 AM
From: Senator David G. Argall and Sen. Ryan P. Aument
To: All Senate members
Subject: Increasing welfare fraud detection through the Office of Inspector General
In 1987, the state Office of Inspector General was created by Executive Order to deter, detect, prevent, and eradicate fraud, waste, misconduct, and abuse in programs, operations, and contracting of state government executive agencies. Since 1994, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) has also been responsible for identifying fraud and conducting collection activities for programs administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS).

The Office of Inspector General’s Bureau of Fraud Prevention and Prosecution addresses fraud, waste, and abuse in DHS’s public assistance programs, such as SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps), General Assistance, TANF, Medical Assistance, and Subsidized Day Care programs. DHS staff refer high-risk applications to the OIG prior to eligibility determination and also suspected fraud. According to the OIG’s 2014-15 Fiscal Year Annual Report, the OIG filed 833 criminal complaints, recovered $3.7 million in restitution, and prevented nearly $87.6 million of fraud in DHS programs. The Office investigated more than 25,700 benefit applications in FY14‑15.

The Office of Inspector General projects that for each dollar spent on investigative and collection activities, it will realize a cost-benefit of $13. The average cost savings per welfare fraud investigator is estimated to be $1.28 million.

If additional staffing were provided to the Office of Inspector General, the Office would be able to station more investigators full-time in the field (County Assistance Offices) to assist caseworkers with questionable applications and to address tips from the public.

This legislation would provide for a 50 percent increase to the current staff complement at the OIG for a minimum of two years. At the end of the first year, the OIG would provide a report to the Senate and House Committees with oversight of DHS, as well as the Senate and House Appropriations Committees regarding the number of investigations addressed by the OIG, how much was saved through their efforts, and how many tips were left unaddressed.

Introduced as SB1345