Senate Republicans announce Finance Committee hearing to review DHS illegalities, request additional documents from Department of Administration

Senate Republican leaders announced a Senate Finance Committee hearing next week to examine the use of illegal contract and spending practices in state agencies. Based on recent reporting of brazen use by DHS employees of the 16A/16C forms that approve spending on services and purchases without a signed contract, a request has been made to the Department of Administration for their 16A and 16C forms across state government.

“This agency is the fastest growing part of our budget,” said Senator Julie Rosen, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “We’ve heard about the fraud in childcare assistance, we’ve seen the waste in overpayments to the tribes, and now we have abuse by agency staff spending money without approval and filing a ‘get out of jail free’ form each time.”

Senator Michelle Benson, Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, said“Commissioner Harpstead has been given an impossible task. The CFO at DHS has been trying to fix this problem, but the entrenched bureaucracy is preventing meaningful change. The governor needs to stop the ribbon cuttings and dig into fixing DHS,” Benson concluded.

The 16A/16C form expressly states: A payment made in violation of this chapter is illegal. …the violation is just cause for the employee’s removal by the appointing authority or by the governor if an appointing authority other than the governor fails to do so. (Emphasis added.) 

It is the governor’s responsibility now,” Rosen continued. “In light of the reporting that 200 forms were filed in the last year at DHS alone, I will be requesting the Department of Administration provide their 16A/16C forms at all levels of contract procurement and agency spending. We will review this request at the hearing next week.”

The Senate Finance Committee will meet on Wednesday, November 13, at 2 pm. The committee has oversight and final approval of all agency budget requests before they are sent to the floor for a vote by the full senate. The full state budget is usually approved in the first year of the biennium, however, supplemental budget requests by agencies are typically made in the second year of the biennium and are expected again this year.