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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

HHS financial management practices ‘unacceptable,' lawmakers say

Two lawmakers have asked the Health and Human Services Department to explain financial management problems flagged in a recent audit, including violations of the Anti-Deficiency Act, which bars agencies from obligating funds without a congressional authorization or appropriation.

It is "unacceptable that HHS fails to maintain accurate financial records and fails to adhere to federal law designed to protect taxpayer dollars from mismanagement and waste," Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., wrote in a Monday letter to the department's secretary, Kathleen Sebelius.

The letter cites findings in a November audit of the department's fiscal 2011 financial statements by Ernst & Young. Last July, HHS identified and declared "multiple instances of violations" of the Anti-Deficiency Act, the audit said, adding that a follow-up review found several other potential infractions.

Coburn and Boustany are also seeking an explanation of an approximately $500 million discrepancy between the department's general ledger and the Treasury Department's records, as well as almost $900 million reported on the financial statements of HHS operating divisions that could not be reconciled with supporting documentation. They asked Sebelius to respond by March 15.

-Sean Reilly, FederalTimes.com

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