OKLAHOMA CITY, Dec. 14, 2017 — My goal since the beginning of the discovery of fiscal mismanagement at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) mirrors that of the legislative investigative committee. That goal is to find out exactly what happened, how it happened and how to prevent it going forward. My testimony indicated that the minute the severity of this problem became apparent, my team and the governor took swift action to help rectify the situation.
The testimony given today was about assigning blame and political theater. If Auditor Jones did not feel my response to his initial conversation on Sept. 1 was adequate, then why did he not go directly to the OSDH Board – the governing body of the agency? Or to the governor, or to the legislative leadership who had the authority to appropriate money to help the agency make payroll?
There was also a lot of discussion about budget-to-actuals and how it factored into the problem. Both OMES and the Legislature have the ability to pull budget-to-actuals at any time. Additionally, I would say that, as appropriators, it’s the responsibility of the Legislature to look at not only what the agency was appropriated the prior year, but also at what was spent to see if it continues to need the same amount of money.
What happened at OSDH is not something a review of budget-to-actuals would have exposed. It is NOT possible for an agency to spend money it doesn’t have. What IS possible is for an agency to inappropriately spend money from one internal fund that is dedicated to a particular use, and not reimburse or expenditure correct that transaction.
My colleagues at OMES are currently working on an assessment of every agency and the records they keep outside of the Core or PeopleSoft systems so that we can ensure adequate visibility and accountability of all systems moving forward. It is also of equal importance that all players understand their roles and responsibilities in this process.
My primary goal as Interim Commissioner of Health is not only to create a culture at OSDH where mismanagement of funds cannot happen again, but to also put the procedures in place to prevent this from happening anywhere in state government going forward.
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