Sneak Preview: Controls Sought To Curtail Penn. LIHEAP Fraud

September 15, 2011 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

(This post is based on an upcoming article in the Single Audit Information Service.) The Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General (PDAG) ordered the state Department of Public Welfare to better oversee its Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, noting that the state agency has done little over the last four years to prevent fraud, waste and abuse.

In a recent performance audit, PDAG found that many problems it identified in a 2007 LIHEAP audit persist, including applicants receiving benefits by using the Social Security numbers of dead people or variations of an active Social Security number. Other applicants received benefits while in prison, by underreporting their income or by submitting for double payments.

DPW officials claimed that many LIHEAP transactions were properly processed, while acknowledging that some deficiencies may have stemmed from administrative errors at county assistance offices. PDAG maintained that transactions lacked the required supporting documentation for allowability, stating that DPW must have the proper reviews, approvals and other controls to adequately ensure that applicants requesting LIHEAP benefits are eligible and receive the appropriate amount. It added that DPW’s program administration guidance to counties does not consistently address specific LIHEAP application procedures.

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