State Auditor Mike Foley says the state Department of Health and Human Services has cost Nebraska taxpayers over $1.8 million by failing to seek federal reimbursement funds in a timely manner.
In a letter to the department, the state auditor points out that the funds were owed to the state through an adoption assistance program managed by health and human services.
Foley’s audit team initially discovered that the department had failed to seek $656,489 in federal reimbursement during the five-year grace period for doing so.
The state auditor's office reports that after realizing that Nebraska taxpayers had been short-changed by what the health and human services called a “clerical error,” the auditors dug deeper and discovered the problem to be a far more serious one that has been occurring for years.
As of June 30, 2012, the department failed to collect $1,821,941 relating to child welfare and protection.
Federal law allows a State agency five years after the period of availability in which to request Federal funds for certain program expenditures incurred by the state.
By failing to make such a request for federal reimbursement during the considerable time allotted, health and human services missed the opportunity for the federal funds.
"The failure of the department to pursue almost two million dollars in available federal funds resulted in child welfare and protection costs being paid for instead with state tax dollars, which could have been used for some other purpose," the auditor office reports.
The breakdown of the funds lost by DHHS was:
- Grant Year Grant Program Amount Lost
- 1996 Child Support Enforcement $46,230
- 1998 Adoption Assistance $76,096
- 1999 Adoption Assistance $417,194
- 2001 Child Support Enforcement $27,140
- 2002 Foster Care Title IV-E $210,713
- 2003 Foster Care Title IV-E $243,919
- 2004 Adoption Assistance $123,419
- 2006 Adoption Assistance $656,489
- 2006 State Survey $20,741
- Total Federal Funds Lost $1,821,941