The Center of the American Experiment, a Minnesota think tank, published a new online scandal tracker that chronicles state government “waste and abuse of taxpayer money.”
The tracker launched after the state announced taxpayers were on the hook for another $23 million for the state Department of Human Service’s (DHS) improper spending, which is required to be repaid to the federal government.
The scandal tracker lists 50 recent state government failures beginning with the 2013 MNsure rollout. The scandals are listed by date and categorized by type of offense: cronyism/corruption, data breaches, IT failures, or mismanagement.
The first entries from 2013 list three MNsure rollout scandals. A September 2013 data breach involved the release of personal information and Social Security numbers of 2,400 Minnesotans. An October 2013 IT failure included site crashes and long wait times. A December 2013 mismanagement scandal involved the program’s then-executive director who took a two-week vacation to Costa Rica “when the site was in shambles.”
The scandal tracker is an outworking of a recent Thinking Minnesota magazine cover story "The Masquerade of Good Government," by Tom Steward, which exposed “nearly a decade of inept decision-making in St. Paul,” the center states.
“Minnesotans want to think our state is functioning, if not perfectly, at least better than most. But a historical review of the evidence shows pervasive mismanagement, incompetence, and even corruption at the highest levels of state government,” John Hinderaker, president of the Center of the American Experiment, said in a statement.
The last entries of the tracker include four in November 2019 all categorized as mismanagement, and waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer money within the DHS.
They include state agencies habitually breaking state contract and spending laws, with more than 1,800 violations reported in one year; $22 million in improper DHS spending required to be repaid to the federal government; the required return of $727,000 in overpayments made to the indigent by counties and Indian tribes; and $624,000 in improper DHS payments made to foster homes, which failed to meet federal background check requirements.
“At least a billion dollars has been wasted by state government since 2016 alone. Since 2013, nearly 60,000 Minnesotans have been put at risk of identity theft after data breaches at government agencies exposed their personal information,” Hinderaker said. “State government is lighting fire to taxpayers’ hard-earned money and failing the people it is supposed be helping – and Minnesotans deserve to know.”