HHS Financial Management Practices ‘Unacceptable,' Lawmakers Say

February 6, 2012

Two lawmakers have asked the Health and Human Services Department to explain financial management problems flagged in a recent audit, including violations of the Anti-Deficiency Act, which bars agencies from obligating funds without a congressional authorization or appropriation.

It is "unacceptable that HHS fails to maintain accurate financial records and fails to adhere to federal law designed to protect taxpayer dollars from mismanagement and waste," Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., wrote in a Monday letter to the department's secretary, Kathleen Sebelius.

The letter cites findings in a November audit of the department's fiscal 2011 financial statements by Ernst & Young. Last July, HHS identified and declared "multiple instances of violations" of the Anti-Deficiency Act, the audit said, adding that a follow-up review found several other potential infractions. In their letter, Coburn and Boustany ask Sebelius to identify the HHS division responsible for each violation, the reason for the problem and whether it was related in any way to the 2010 health care overhaul. 

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