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DHHS Heads Who Mismanaged Tax Dollars May Not Be Held Accountable

6:49 PM, Feb 20, 2013   |    comments
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Raleigh, NC -- State Auditor Beth Wood says even she was surprised when she started digging and finding all the problems in the state Department of Health and Human Services.

News 2 spoke exclusively to Wood in Raleigh on Wednesday, a week after her latest scathing report on the plagued department.

Since January of this year, Wood's audits have revealed egregious problems with the health department. 

Some of the details include department heads ignoring state law and federal policies, overlooking directives from the state General Assembly, department heads mismanaged tax dollars and paid themselves more than $580,000 in improperly approved overtime.

According to one of the audits, the health department also spent billions over-budget for several years:

In 2010, it was $1.8 billion over-budget and $1.4 billion over-budget each of the two years after that.

As a taxpayer, Wood says she's frustrated by the billions in tax dollars department heads waste. 

But even worst, even though she found the money trail, state leaders probably can't hold anyone accountable.

"The hardest thing to prove is intent. At worse, poor management, not doing your job, not having the competency to do your job, will usually end in some sort of disciplinary action based on performance. And at worst, you might be fired, well, these people are no longer there, so that's not anything that can be done now," Wood explained. "If you're talking about moving forward with some criminal disciplinary action, again, proving intent is one of the hardest thing to prove in our job and I'm not so sure that you can do that in this point in time."

Wood says state lawmakers ordered the DHHS audit four years ago when they couldn't get the department to submit reliable budget projections and forecast savings.

The state health department has the largest budget of any state agency and affects the lives of virtually every North Carolinian.

With no accountability in all of the uncovered problems, Wood says the only thing that can be done is making sure the mismanagement cannot happen again.

Read WFMY News 2's DHHS Coverage:

DHHS Pays $580k In Improperly Approved Overtime
Department Mismanaged Taxpayers' Money
Former DHHS Head Responds To Scathing Audit 
Audit Find Violations In DHHS 
State Audit Of DHHS' Mediciad System 
New DHHS Head Says Department Is Structurally Broken
DHHS: Closure Of Care Facilities Violated Law

"The taxpayers should hold accountable, the state of North Carolina and its leaders for making sure that their monies are not inefficiently spent in this manner again," Wood said.

As a taxpayer, the auditor's office says you should call and report any problems if you suspect mismanagement at any state agency.

Wood says based on some systemic problems she's already uncovered, there've been hundreds of millions of dollars wasted across other state departments as well. 

But auditing them all costs a lot of money that the state can't afford. 

However, if enough taxpayers raise an issue with a specific department, they could go in and bring those issues to light.

You can reach the state auditor's office at:

Toll-free HOTLINE
(800) 730-TIPS
(800) 730-8477

Physical Address:
N.C. Office of the State Auditor
2 South Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 807-7500 voice
(919) 807-7647 fax

Mailing Address:
N.C. Office of the State Auditor
20601 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-0601
(919) 807-7500 voice
(919) 807-7647 fax

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