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AUDITOR GENERAL BARBARA HAFER RELEASES AUDITS OF 15 WELFARE ASSISTANCE OFFICES IN THE STATE

 AUDITOR GENERAL BARBARA HAFER RELEASES AUDITS
 OF 15 WELFARE ASSISTANCE OFFICES IN THE STATE
 HARRISBURG, Pa., April 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Auditor General Barbara Hafer today released audits of 15 welfare assistance offices throughout the state which identify more than $1.3 million in potential and actual savings to the commonwealth.
 "Included in this $1.3 million is a potential savings of more than $934,000 in suspected welfare fraud overpayments," Hafer said. Suspected fraud overpayments are referred to the Department of Welfare's Office of Fraud and Abuse Investigation and Recovery, which can then make efforts to recoup these funds.
 Auditors recommended that welfare income-maintenance caseworkers emphasize to recipients the importance of reporting complete and accurate information regarding their situations. In addition, auditors stressed the significance of following the Department of Public Welfare policies and procedures for maintaining case records and for processing information obtained from recipients or from collateral sources.
 The 15 additional audits covered periods between Dec. 31, 1988, through Feb. 7, 1992, and reviewed 7,635 of 55,077 total cases. The audits identified nearly $1.08 million in potential and actual savings, including the savings related to fraud. This potential and actual savings was due to recipients withholding information, or providing incorrect information, and from welfare personnel errors in case record maintenance. The audit also found that correcting procedural deficiencies within the assistance offices could potentially save an additional $271,738.
 Hafer noted that this potential savings was calculated by using random and select samples of all public assistance cases. Therefore, the true potential savings to the commonwealth is in excess of the reported amount of $1.3 million.
 "Every dollar saved by helping curb errors is a dollar available for other vital state services or programs," Hafer said. "In view of our current state budget crisis, cutting waste is even more crucial. That's why, in the past 14 months, my staff has issued reports on 50 of the state's 102 welfare offices in a concerted drive to bring payment errors down," Hafer added.
 Since taking office in January 1989, Hafer's department has reviewed more than 70,000 cash assistance cases, identifying $8.2 million in overpayments and other errors -- including more than $7.3 million in suspected fraud overpayments.
 "The auditing function is an integral part of the operation of state government, and audits such as these can serve as blueprints for effective fiscal management," Hafer concluded.
 Audits just released examine the operation of welfare assistance offices located in Allegheny, Bedford, Berks, Clarion, Delaware, Erie, Fulton, Luzerne, Philadelphia, Westmoreland, Wyoming and York counties.
 -0- 4/16/92
 /Editors: Audit copies my be obtained by calling the press office at the numbers below. Actualities on this topic are available to broadcast media 24 hours a day by calling 800-647-4883./
 /CONTACT: Steve Schell or Tracy Smith of the Office of the Auditor General, 717-787-1381, or 717-787-4486/ CO: Office of the Auditor General ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


JS-KA -- PH037 -- 9493 04/16/92 16:35 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 16, 1992
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