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Investigation by Adam Andrzejewski originally published by RealClearInvestigations.com and RealClearWire.com
Imagine being in charge of spending for a state’s health department initiatives, including the billions in federal funding received during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now imagine losing track of $1.4 billion.
That’s what the Maryland Department of Health did when it failed to adequately track federal reimbursements it received during the pandemic, leading to more than $1 billion in unaccounted-for funds, according to a recent audit from the state Office of Legislative Audits, the Washington Post reported.
But that’s not the worst of it.
At the end of Fiscal Year 2022, the department couldn’t account for $3.5 billion in reimbursed funds it should have received from the federal government. By April, the office recovered $2.1 billion of those funds, leaving $1.4 billion that should have been reimbursed undocumented.
Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said the audit “raises significant concerns about how finances were documented and handled at the Department of Health during the previous administration” of Gov. Larry Hogan.
Most of the Health Department’s top leadership changed before the audit was completed, during the transition between Hogan and Moore.
If efforts fail to recover the $1.4 billion, some Maryland officials fear that state taxpayers could be on the hook, the Post reported. But others said maybe the accounting errors could be fixed without dipping into future budgets.
“The Health Department haphazardly filed for reimbursements from the federal government, often delaying those requests for months,” the Post reported. “The agency then failed to keep track of the reimbursement payments it received, according to the audit, leading to uncertainty over whether the state had submitted all of its eligible expenses on time or received all of the federal money it was owed.”
This lack of basic recordkeeping and budgeting skills is shameful and would be a shame to hoist on taxpayers.
Adam Andrzejewski – The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com
This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire.