DHS Reforms Third-Party Contracting to Increase Accountability
For immediate release:
August 11, 2009
Pam Ronan, 609-292-3703
DDD Returns $15 million in Contract Closeouts to StateTRENTON – An audit released today by the Office of the State Comptroller that examines third-party contracts of the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) has identified questionable spending for Fiscal Years 2006 and 2007. DHS has been addressing these issues through comprehensive reform measures already underway to improve transparency in DDD state-funded contracts.
“The audit reinforced what we had already identified as exigent areas within DDD and efforts have been underway since June 2007 to clarify and strengthen all policies and practices that invoke the expenditure of public funds,” said DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez.
“Every state dollar used in contracts matters. Any questionable expenditure, if indeed made with public funds, is regrettable and action must be taken to recover any unallowable or inappropriate costs.”
The developmental disability community is one that encompasses extraordinary needs evidenced by the historically long wait list for residential placements and in-home supports.
“While we must always consider the multi-faceted needs of those with developmental disabilities, we must also balance those needs with vigilance to ensure that every expenditure is spent appropriately and wisely,” Governor Corzine said. “I commend Commissioner Velez and Comptroller Boxer for moving this audit forward by providing real solutions and increased accountability.”
DDD has made significant progress in restructuring, including:
- The expedited close-outs of previous years’ contracts – returning approximately $10.5 million to Treasury by July 2009 and establishing the process for collecting up to an additional $4.2 million
- Eliminating in excess of 300 day program vacancies
- Reducing case management caseloads by approximately 20 percent through an intra-departmental collaboration
- Monitoring providers noted to be in financial stress or whose performance raises concerns, including follow up on providers’ corrective action plans; Contracts have been approved conditionally until corrective action was implemented, and indeed, contracts have been terminated when appropriate
- Initiating a comprehensive review of the entire case management system, including a plan to structurally reduce caseloads and to formalize case managers’ training
- Preparing a quarterly performance review “dashboard” comparing each DDD contracted provider agency, which will be posted online later this month with information including providers’ licensing status, number of substantiated incidents and other performance standards allowing contract administrators, families of individuals with developmental disabilities and providers themselves to assess provider performance
- Initiating an electronic budget request, approval and tracking system to document any requested contract changes. Contract modifications are now subject to review by case managers, regional administrators, program coordinators, contract administrators and fiscal staff prior to final approval