Press release from Senator Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, Jan. 5, 2016:
Tracy Files Legislation to Control Fraud and Mismanagement within the Department of Human Services
NASHVILLE — State Senator Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) has filed legislation aimed at correcting serious problems within the Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS). The legislation will make substantial changes to the way this vital state agency performs its duties in serving Tennesseans.
“The Department of Human Services provides services to some of the most vulnerable citizens of our state,” said Senator Tracy. “I am very disappointed by the facts uncovered in Comptroller audits and investigations which have identified pervasive and recurring issues within this agency. It’s time for a new approach.”
Comptroller audits and investigations have identified financial mismanagement and fraud within some of the federal food programs managed by DHS. Many of the problems are the result of DHS’ ineffective monitoring of third-party agencies that receive taxpayer money to feed children and adults.
Senate Bill 1472 will require DHS to file monthly reports to certain Legislative Committees, the Comptroller’s Office and the Speakers of both chambers on a variety of issues, including its monitoring activities and internal audit functions.
An independent hotline will also be set up within DHS to allow employees to report internal misconduct. DHS will be prohibited from terminating any employee without providing a written explanation to the Tennessee General Assembly.
Additionally, the bill will transfer all DHS accounting operations to the Department and Finance and Administration, and place DHS in the sunset cycle to terminate on July 1, 2017.
“These measures are being undertaken to both protect the taxpayer and ensure that money designated for those in need is spent for those purposes,” added Tracy. “The Tennessee General Assembly takes this responsibility seriously, and it’s time for DHS to do the same.”