|Posted:||December 4, 2020 10:33 AM|
|From:||Senator David G. Argall|
|To:||All Senate members|
|Subject:||Increasing welfare fraud detection through the Office of Inspector General|
|I will soon re-introduce legislation that will provide additional funds to help assist the Office of Inspector General in identifying fraud.
In 1987, the 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 2017-18 Fiscal Year Annual Report, the OIG filed 743 criminal complaints for a total restitution amount of $3 million. The field investigation program conducted an investigation of 26,656 applications, which saved the state over $75.2 million in welfare benefits that would have been incorrectly paid. The Office of Inspector General projects that for each dollar spent on investigative and collection activities, it will realize a cost-benefit of $12.
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 SB298