FILE - Missouri Democrat Auditor Nicole Galloway

Missouri Democrat Auditor Nicole Galloway

(The Center Square) – Several Missouri government departments lacked financial oversight in the spending of $20.6 billion in federal funds, according to Democrat Nicole Galloway’s audit of state spending for fiscal year 2021.

Galloway reviewed 20 federal programs within 10 state agencies and approximately $13.8 billion in expenditures.

The 120-page report noted 22 findings, 15 more than the prior year. Three are repeat findings made during the last two to seven years. Eleven findings deal with compliance with federal rules for social service and health care assistance through Medicaid and other federal programs.

“Billions of dollars have been sent to state agencies from the federal government for specific programs, including many new programs related to COVID-19 recovery,” Galloway said in a statement Thursday announcing the report. “State agencies need to be accountable for how these taxpayer funds are used, especially given the unprecedented amount of federal funding that is flowing into Missouri.”

The federal Department of Health and Human Services sent approximately $22.7 million to Missouri through the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) for Infectious Diseases program. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) used the program to fund testing, contact tracing, vaccinations and other COVID-19 activities through 123 entities, mostly county and city health departments.

Auditors found DHSS didn’t have adequate procedures to ensure ELC disbursements to city and county health departments were allowable, reasonable and supported with sufficient documentation. It also found DHSS didn’t adequately monitor entities receiving ELC funds.

The report found the Department of Economic Development (DED) needed to improve internal controls and monitoring for more than $323 million in federal emergency rental assistance it passed through to the Missouri Housing Development Commission. The audit also found DED failed to report $337 million in federal COVID-19 relief aid for renters and homeowners.

The audit found the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ UInteract system failed to prevent or detect improper payments authorized by an employee totaling approximately $123,000 in 2020 and 2021.

Unemployment insurance program expenditures totaled more than $3.4 billion in 2021, including $2.7 billion in federal benefits and $661 million in state benefits paid to Missouri workers.

The Department of Social Services (DSS) lacked adequate controls to prevent overpayments of subsidies to child care providers. DSS also hasn’t corrected system overrides for some Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program participants.

Staff Reporter

Joe Mueller covers Missouri for The Center Square. After seven years of reporting for daily newspapers in Illinois and Missouri, he spent the next 30 years in public relations serving non-profit organizations and as a strategic communications consultant.