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Utah Dept. of Workforce Services under fire from state audit

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - The Utah State Auditor is sharing results from a recent audit of the Utah Department of Workforce Services, and it's not looking good for the department.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - The Utah State Auditor is sharing results from a recent audit of the Utah Department of Workforce Services, and it's not looking good for the department.

There's a lot of technical terminology in the report but ABC 4 is told it boils down to this:

People have been getting getting government assistance through DWS, who didn't qualify for it. And/or, people who do qualify are supposed to do certain things to get it and nobody's doing the right paperwork to follow up with these people to see if they're doing it.

"It's an ongoing problem that hasn't been adequately addressed," said John Dougall, Utah State Auditor.

The Utah State Auditor said he's concerned about what's going on with the Department of Workforce Services.

"We've seen a 60% error rate for at least the last four years," said Dougall.

The State Auditor's Office found 16 ongoing problems over a variety of difference programs at DWS that could be costing Utah tax payers millions of dollars.

For example, the department's Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) helps provide health care to kids who come from low income families. The state audit found 25% of families enrolled, weren't actually eligible, but were getting benefits anyway.
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"We can understand if it's a one year thing and then it gets fixed, but because it's been a problem over the years, we want to make sure folks were aware of that," said Dougall.

Reporter Brian Carlson went to DWS Tuesday to find out what's going on. He was told their Communications Director was out of town, but Carlson reached him over the phone. The director told Carlson they're aware of the issues and working to fix them.

"Our new executive director has made it clear to everyone that these types of numbers will not be tolerated moving forward," said Joseph Demma, Utah Dept. of Workforce Services Communications Director.

But Communications Director Joseph Demma told Carlson what you're hearing in the audit isn't as bad as it may sound.

"Overall we're happy with the work we've done at the Department of Workforce Services. There's always room for improvement in any thing that you do," said Demma.

The State Auditor said he couldn't estimate the total loss in tax payer dollars, but identified money lost in the department's Workforce Investment Act is projected to have cost the state $908,000.

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Follow Brian Carlson on Twitter: @tv_briancarlson
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