The Auditor General’s office is in the middle of an audit of the Department of Public Welfare that will be released in 2015. But on Tuesday, the agency held a news conference to release an interim report, showing fraud and systemic problems.
DePasquale said in the news conference that his office found 138 EBT cards in use, registered to dead people, that had spent more than $200,000 in a nine-month period. They also found other evidence of fraudulent activity. They asked the DPW to investigate these cases in May.
“138, it’s inexcusable,” says DePasquale. “…They promised us that we would get information to confirm whether their point of view or our point of view was accurate. That was a month and a half ago. And we have yet to receive that information.”
Bev Mackereth, secretary of the Department of Public Welfare, says his numbers are wrong. She says more than half the cases he cites checked out as correctly allocated benefits. But, she says they did find that in 5 of the cases, the cards were registered to dead people’s Social Security numbers. And some of the other benefits noted were wrongly going to living, but ineligible people.
“It is their responsibility to ensure that if there’s a problem then it’s identified,” says Mackereth, who says she didnt know the news conference would be held. “I would’ve preferred to have notice up front, so we could’ve gotten back to him.”
She says she doesn’t know why her investigation’s numbers don’t match DePasquale’s.
“There will always be people who abuse or commit fraud within our system,” says Mackereth. “But we are working diligently to change that.”