Independent legislative audit finds “significant distrust” of Ham by investigators in her office
Following the release of the nonpartisan and independent legislative audit of fraud allegations within the Minnesota Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), Senator Mark Koran (R-North Branch) is calling for the resignation of the individual responsible for managing fraud investigations within the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), Inspector General Carolyn Ham. The Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) found “significant distrust” between Ham and the investigators that work in her office, explaining that upon Ham’s appointment to the position in 2017, the previously “good working relationship” with the Inspector General deteriorated. Further, the report detailed that Ham had initial meetings with all work units within the Inspector General Office, except with the child care fraud investigators, stating that “most of the investigators…have never met Ham, and several noted her unwillingness to speak to them”.
“The legislative audit report details gross incompetence and mismanagement of the very agency responsible for rooting out fraud and waste within Department of Human Services programs,” said Senator Koran, Vice-Chair of the bipartisan Minnesota Legislative Audit Commission. “I cannot fathom how Ms. Ham, whose job description as Inspector General is described by its own website as “manag[ing] financial fraud and abuse investigations“, has never met her own investigators. By failing to even communicate with the employees in her office responsible for carrying out the mission of the Inspector General, Ms. Ham has proven she is incapable of fulfilling the basic duties of her job. She must go immediately. And, if she refuses to voluntarily resign, Governor Walz should terminate her for cause.”
Additionally, the OLA report cites Ham’s efforts to “discredit” the work of her own investigators, going so far as to use $90,000 of taxpayer funds to hire an outside consulting firm to “examine the…investigation unit” within her own office. Further, during a legislative committee hearing, Ham made a statement that “clearly left the impression that [she] does not trust the…investigators that work within her office.”
The OLA report also reveals an inherent conflict of interest within the Office of the Inspector General, stating that “it is not clear that DHS IG has any independence from DHS management.” The report recommends that “the Legislature establish in law an Inspector General for Human Services.”
“To be a truly independent agency that investigates and roots out fraud within human service programs, the Office of the Inspector General must be a standalone office outside of the Department of Human Services,” added Senator Koran. “I will be authoring legislation in the Minnesota Senate that does just that, so that we can have uncompromised reviews of DHS programs that benefit not only good government, but every Minnesota taxpayer.”