Most of you are aware that every State in the U.S. provides some sort of safety net service, devoted to the health & well being of its citizens.
Though specific titles of such programs may vary from state to state, Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS), Child Protective Services (CPS), or any similar variation of such abbreviations, let there be no mistake… these services are all the same and they all share the same agenda.
The protection of the people from each other.
Many of you reading this may have even had your own run in with such a service.
Maybe you’ve been employed with such a service or known someone who’s been affected by such a service.
Maybe you yourself or a loved one has been personally dragged neck deep through the mud of an investigation of such a service.
Either way, when it comes to these services, it’s a common, daily occurrence for emotions to run high, and quite often run out of control.
Because of these delicate frailties of such rampant emotion and personal human involvement, a wise man might say that such a service must be quite adamant in regard to professionalism, safety, security, and following proper standard operating procedures.
Well, unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case when it comes to the State of Maine, and our DHHS Program.
A recent 2019 audit of the Maine DHHS books has unearthed some disturbing actions and behaviors of those in charge of this controversial state program.
I say “controversial”, because recent decades have brought ever increasing awareness to the very troubling bias and unbalance that is still embedded deep within these services, nationwide.
Unbalance in regard to the grossly lopsided ratio of female to male caseworkers administering such services.
Biases in regard to immediate favorability to the female with simultaneous accusation of guilt toward the male when initially opening new cases that involve traditional relationships of the opposite sex.
These controversies in themselves provide ample content for an article all of their own, so I’ll leave those thoughts to rest where they lie.
Setting all prior controversy aside, let us now delve into the transparencies of this recent Maine audit, and the facts that it has revealed.
Every fiscal year, health & human services throughout the country receive appropriated funds to maintain their programs. Quite often, as with any other state agency or program, these funds come from federal money in the form of grants.
Sometimes these grant contracts are awarded to those who simply go through the procedure of applying for them, other times the contracts are fought for through a bid process.
In a nutshell, once a year, the federal government opens up its piggy bank and grants a specific amount of money for these services nationwide.
It’s then up to each state to convince the fed that they need X number of dollars for X number of reasons.
Sometimes they all get their little piece of the pie and other times they’ve got to battle it out with other states and bid for it.
Not everything in life is free without a fight, right?…
Well… it’s looking pretty evident, that sometime in the past three or four years, the Maine DHHS Powers That Be, conducted some shady schemes, and when caught red handed, attempted to play dumb with a bunch of “Who… Me??!” looks on their faces.
Sometime between 2014 and 2017, Maine DHHS awarded nearly $400,000 of federal grant money to an unknown “Consulting Firm” in the form of a “Sole Source Contract” for a crime victims program.
This contract was required by federal rules to be put up for bid. In other words, Maine DHHS wasn’t permitted to give this $400K to any firm of their choosing.
Causing further suspicion of malcontent, Maine DHHS refuses to disclose the identity of the “Consultant Firm” of which they granted the federal funds.
Throughout the in depth process of the audit, The Office Of Inspector General uncovered evidence of other shady dealings in regard to gross mishandling if the $400,000.
Areas of this mishandling of federal funds included, but were not limited to the following:
-Maine DHHS lacked any type of funding allocation or planning strategy.
-They lacked written procedures and performance reporting requirements.
-They were non compliant with cash management requirements and failed to maintain any proper documentation of such cash transactions.
That’s a lot of shady behavior…
Let’s back up for just a moment and analyze this, shall we?
Let’s say that your Mom hands you a hundred dollar bill to buy food.
You’re in charge of what food you choose to buy. You can decide if you spend it all on food now, or some food now and put the rest of the money in your own bank account to buy more food later.
The only rules are that you’re supposed to save your receipts and keep an accurate log of what food you bought with the money.
How would Mom react if you came home with no food, no receipts for said food, and no money?
Mom would probably say that you’re an irresponsible child.
In this case, the irresponsible child is Maine DHHS and Mom is the federal government.
Maine DHHS was ordered to reimburse the nearly $400,000 of “mishandled” federal money ($398,055 to be precise).
The second portion of their punishment is where things get even more interesting…
Federal officials gave Maine DHHS fifteen recommendations to improve the state’s handling of federal grant contracts in the future.
Interestingly enough, Jeanne Lambrew, the possibly “crooked commissioner” of Maine DHHS, sent an August 2019 letter to said federal officials which stated that her department would fully comply with all 15 of their recommendations.
I can’t help but feel that this “total compliance” may have something to do with the fact that Jeanne Lambrew is intelligent enough to know that she and her esteemed colleagues just skated by the skin of their teeth past significant incarceration for embezzlement of federal funds.
A few words of advice for Jeanne and her staff…
Start worrying a bit more about the genuine well being of all citizens in our state, irregardless of any stereotype and worry a little less about your hunger for political corruption.
You may impress yourself.
Opinions by Ryan A. Murphy
September 15th, 2019
“Take It Or Leave It.”