DCF Will Continue Strengthening the Integrity of its Benefit Programs
The Office of the Vermont State Auditor recently released the findings of an audit they conducted to determine:
- How the Economic Services Division (ESD) of the Department for Children and Families prevents and detects benefits fraud
- If people who received improper payments were disqualified from getting further benefits
- Whether improper payments were recovered
The audit examined the period between January 1, 2013 and April 21, 2016, during which time:
- ESD issued about $632 million in benefits that helped lower-income Vermonters meet their basic needs for things such as food, fuel to heat their homes and emergency housing
- ESD’s Fraud Unit established about $1.8 million in claims against recipients who received improper payments (representing .28% of total benefits)
“We welcomed the opportunity to work with the Office of the Vermont State Auditor to review the integrity of our benefit programs,” said ESD Deputy Commissioner Sean Brown. “We were pleased that the audit confirmed our belief that benefits fraud is still quite rare and program integrity is strong. We are always open to ways we can strengthen our programs and be more accountable to Vermont taxpayers.”
While the integrity of ESD’s benefits program is strong, the report did find a few areas for improvement. These were mainly related to efforts to collect on improper payments and to disqualify beneficiaries from getting further benefits.
“We agree there are areas for improvement and have already implemented several recommendations, including making fraud reporting more visible on the DCF website and looking into the creation of an online reporting system. Other recommendations related to improving our tracking system and enhancing collection activities will require IT solutions and take longer to implement. Recommendations related to disqualifying clients from getting benefits will require more consideration. We must make sure we do not unintentionally hurt the vulnerable Vermonters who rely on our programs — especially the children.”
The full report is available on the Office of the Vermont State Auditor’s website at http://auditor.vermont.gov/.