Audit of Tennessee Community Services Agency Finds Nearly $30,000 In Fraud In Federal Temporary Assistance For Needy Families Program

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A report released Thursday by the state comptroller’s office details how the Tennessee Community Services Agency (TNCSA) management failed to detect and prevent clients from falsifying work activity documentation to receive their cash benefits.

The Comptroller’s Division of State Audit found that clients fraudulently received $29,543 in benefits based on falsified documentation.

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, known as the Families First program in Tennessee, is a federal grant program funded through the United States Department of Health and Human Services.  The TANF program, designed to help needy families achieve self-sufficiency, includes providing cash benefits to eligible families.  To receive cash benefits, recipients must participate in work activity if the Tennessee Department of Human Services determines that they are able.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services contracted with Structured Employment Economic Development Corporation (Seedco) and Seedco subcontracted with TNCSA to provide case management services to TANF clients in Shelby County.  Through its Employment Solutions program, TNCSA management was responsible for ensuring TANF clients were engaged in required work activities in order to obtain and maintain their benefits. 

Comptroller’s auditors determined that:

· TNCSA staff did not verify the clients’ work activity with employers and supervisors;

· Client files contained falsified income statements, employer receipts, and community service timesheets;

· Clients engaged in fewer work activity hours than were required to maintain benefits;

· TNCSA staff failed to document client absences from work activity hours;

· TNCSA staff case notes in Salesforce and the Automated Client Certification and Eligibility Network of Tennessee (ACCENT) did not agree with work activity documentation in the clients’ paper files; and

· TNCSA staff created work activity documentation after auditors’ requests for documentation because apparently the original documents were not readily available or because the documents did not exist.

Auditors will present their findings at a meeting of the General Assembly’s Government Operation Joint Subcommittee on Education, Health, and General Welfare on Oct. 23. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. in Hearing Room 16 at Legislative Plaza in downtown Nashville.

The audit also highlighted other issues with TNCSA that are unrelated to the Employment Solutions program. The report can be viewed online at: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/repository/SA/pa13058.pdf.

“Fraud of public money simply cannot be tolerated and falsifying documentation to obtain federal or state benefits is unacceptable,” said Comptroller Justin P. Wilson.  “It is imperative that state officials and the state’s contractors put safeguards in place to prevent and detect fraudulent activity by ineligible individuals.”

Anyone who suspects an individual or an agency of fraud, waste, or abuse of public funds in Tennessee, should contact the comptroller’s hotline toll free at 800-232-5454 or fill out a report at http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/shared/safwa.asp


2nd Independent Candidate May Be On Walker County Ballot

A second Independent candidate may be on the ballot for sole commissioner of Walker County in the election on Nov. 8. Perry D. Lamb, Jr. has been working toward collecting the necessary 1,640 signatures of registered voters on a petition. His campaign said he is close to the goal. Incumbent Bebe Heiskell is running an an Independent. Election officials said since she was ... (click for more)

Corker Says He Respects The United Kingdom's Decision To Leave The European Union

Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Friday made the following statement about the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union: "A free people should choose their own way, and we respect the British decision to leave the European Union. “Today's referendum will not change our special relationship with the United ... (click for more)

Save Coolidge Park - And Response

Last Monday morning while at work a good friend messaged me concerning a matter that I had not heard anything about dealing with Coolidge Park and its future. Apparently that night the City Council was to read an ordinance that would allow the mayor to start negotiations with the relocation of the Medal of Honor Museum. This ordinance would enable the city to lease approximately ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Chicago’s Gun Buyer

In the days following the horrifying massacre of 50 people at an Orlando nightclub, several of the crazies in the media have dashed about trying to prove how easy it is to obtain an assault weapon. Some guy in Philadelphia claims he bought one in seven minutes when, in fact, we would all have been better served if he had written how long it took him to get a psychiatric exam and ... (click for more)

Memorial Service For Lynn Trent is Sunday June 26

 “To all who knew Lynn this (his death) is truly sad news. My friendship with Lynn goes back to the 70's.I was always the better for having seen Lynn on any trip home and know no one more dedicated to or who loved the Mocs any more than Lynn.” UTC Alum and Actor Dennis Haskins   We have lost a friend. Actually a great friend. One who was dedicated ... (click for more)

Red Bank Stays Unbeaten With Win Over Waterdogs

The Red Bank Gators are now a win away from claiming first place in the White division of the Chattanooga Area Swim League. Facing the Waterdogs from Cleveland in a battle of unbeaten teams at Red Bank Thursday night, the Gators clinched at least a tie for first place with a 403-366 victory in a meet that was much closer than that 37-point margin might otherwise indicate. ... (click for more)