Today Senator Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake) renewed her call to split the Office of Inspector General into a separate department in light of the continued personnel and culture problems within DHS. Senate Republicans included the change in the Health and Human Services budget passed on May 1, 2019.
“Yesterday’s revelations that a whistle blower was escorted out of her office after emailing her concerns about the legality of government contracts is more evidence the culture at DHS needs to change,” said Sen. Benson. “The change should start with an independent OIG that is open to hearing fraud reports, pursues them without bias, and protects the people that report problems.
“We proposed making the OIG independent and accountable to the Governor last session. During negotiations, House Democrats and the Governor’s office instead suggested a ‘Blue Ribbon Commission’ to cut costs. I appreciate the effort, but the Blue Ribbon Commission hasn’t been assembled yet and DHS is crumbling under the weight of poor leadership. We need real reforms, not just cost-saving measures, to change the culture and purpose of the agency from top-to-bottom,” Benson concluded.
Senate Republicans have established a website (www.mnsenaterepublicans.com/mnwhistleblower) for DHS and other state government whistleblowers to reports their concerns. “It’s clear leadership at DHS is not taking fraud or abuse seriously. We want all DHS and state agency employees to have a safe place to report their concerns. We will keep their complaints anonymous and pursue them with the full weight of the legislature to determine whether tax dollars are being wasted or abused.”
The current Inspector General, Carolyn Ham, remains on leave after the Legislative Auditor highlighted serious concerns with her management of the OIG. On Friday, July 12, Ham said her investigation was going to start today, July 23. The following Monday, the Governor contradicted Ham’s statement and said the investigation had already began. Senate Republicans have not been officially informed of when the investigation began and the public remains in the dark on the status of the investigation.