A just-released legislative audit shows that Maryland unemployment checks were issued to people who were dead, behind bars or even working for state government. One state employee collected almost 6 thousand dollars in unemployment checks while on the state payroll. Auditors say the agency didn’t do enough cross checks in available databases to look for possible fraud. This most recent audit is one in a series that find careless stewardship of our tax dollars.
The problem at Unemployment Insurance comes shortly after another audit revealed the Maryland Transportation Authority isn’t collecting unpaid tolls and fines from the worst toll violators. And late last year an accounting error was discovered at the Disabilities Administration that left 34 million dollars unspent as disabled people were stuck on a long waiting list
for services. It’s enough to make hard working taxpayers scream.
It’s hard to know how many state tax dollars have actually been lost to fraud and how much was wasted or went uncollected because agencies weren’t keeping close tabs. Audits are only done every three years and it’s tough to put your finger on the exact amount of the losses. That’s because auditors do a random sampling or just survey one quarter, when a problem may have existed for several years. Agency chiefs often respond to the critiques by saying remedies are underway or the problem will soon be fixed. Yet the missteps and mismanagement keep resurfacing. This is an outrage.
The problem is one of no enforcement! Some of these state agencies have problem audits over and over again. No taxpayer deserves this. In the future “repeat offender” agencies should be subject to more frequent audits. There should be some penalty for the bureaucrat bumbling. We are compelled to be better guardians of public funds.