Washington lawmakers earmarked $300,000 in the budget they approved Thursday to pay for an audit of the fraud fighting unit at the Department of Social and Health Services.
The legislation calls on DSHS to “identify and reduce the backlog” of cases in its Office of Fraud and Accountability (OFA).
The State Auditor’s Office will launch a probe of OFA to determine if it is properly handling fraud complaints related to food stamp and welfare cash programs, as well as taxpayer subsidized childcare programs for low-income parents.
The legislation follows a KING 5 investigation earlier this year that revealed that OFA has a backlog of nearly 2,000 criminal cases that are waiting to be assigned to investigators.
The backlog exists even though records show that OFA purged nearly 5,000 tips about fraud from DSHS employees during a 14-day period in 2012.
The audit legislation was sponsored by Senator Andy Hill (R-Redmond), who said the investigation showed that DSHS may still have a “leaky ship” that is not protecting taxpayer dollars.
In 2011 the KING 5 series “Their Crime, Your Dime” exposed rampant fraud in DSHS and federal programs that are supposed to help needy families.