by Max Brantley
The world waits for the special Medicaid audit from Legislative Audit, mentioned in David's post earlier.
When will it be released?
I tried to get an answer from Legislative Audit on why normal procedures for the audit weren't followed. That is, why wasn't the audit presented to the target agency, Human Services, first for the normal review and comment procedure?
No comment, was my response.
I've similarly been stonewalled in my attempts to find out how this hurryup special audit originated, why the release date was pushed up more than a month and what types of messages/guidance/instruction Republican Audit Committee Co-Chair Bryan King gave to audit staff in the preparation.
DHS said it has prepared a response to the audit that will be released with the report. It has not been informed when the release will come. Since it apparently was all but ready for a special Republican dog-and-pony show of which Democrats weren't apprised early in the week, it's hard to guess the reason for today's delay. A 5 p.m. document dump, maybe, when it will be harder for the Beebe administration to respond?
Gov. Mike Beebe has said if the audit finds problems, of course they should be corrected. With hundreds of millions in spending, it's hard to imagine a program that couldn't use some improvement and fine-tuning.
But Republicans have created a stench by the political handling of this matter. A regular audit conducted according to usual procedures would have been more credible. This one will carry a permanent taint of Bryan King's making.
UPDATE: Nothing today. Note this afternoon from the governor's spokesman, Matt DeCample:
We’ve received word through DHS that the audit will not be released today. Positive, constructive discussions have been ongoing today between DHS and Legislative Audit staff. Without getting into detail, we believe that at least some of our concerns are being addressed. We will review the results when they are released and will work with DHS to address concerns raised by the auditors.
DeCample summarized the funny business in a prepared statement yesterday:
First and foremost, this administration and executive state agencies will work to correct any legitimate concerns raised by audits.
However, there are unprecedented steps being taken by Legislative Audit regarding this Medicaid audit that we find troubling.
Finalized audits from 2009, 2010 and 2011 are being revisited, and preliminary materials from those audits that had been successfully refuted by DHS are being re-introduced.
DHS has been denied an appropriate exit conference regarding 2012 Medicaid materials, which is the opportunity for an agency to sit down with Legislative Audit and review the accuracy of the findings before they are made public. We have never heard of any entity under the purview of Legislative Audit being denied this opportunity.
These concerns are in addition to the strong objections DHS has expressed about methodologies used and demands made through this audit process.
We are not going to speculate as to the motives of these unusual actions. We find them troubling because they do not seem consistent with the tradition of professionalism exemplified by Legislative Audit.