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May 31, 2013

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Page14 POST-GAZETTE, MAY 31,2013 f * DTA Need to Strengthen Efforts (Continued from page-1) sampled cases, 'store purchases and-ATM tranSactiofis were made after the recipients' dates of death, suggesting that unauthorized persons were using public benefits. In addition, the audit says that DTA paid at least $368,000 benefits to 178 guardians who were claiming deceased per- sons as dependents and $164,000 to 40 individuals being claimed by more than one guardian, r While DTA uses national databases to verify self-reported information on a recipient's income and employment information, the agency did not verify self-reported Social Security Numbers (SSNs). The report says that DTA paid over $662,000 to individuals who were receiving benefits under two separate SSNs, over $359,000 to individuals whose SSNs were being used by more than one individual, and was providing benefits for an extended amount of time to recipients with an invalid temporary SSN. Inadequate Security over Blank EBT Cards A review of DTA's processes for distributing blank EBT cards revealed that five regional offices could not provide documentation that accounted for over 30,000 cards, call- ing into question the agency's ability to maintain an adequate physical security of blank EBT cards. Past inter- nal investigations have found DTA employees misusing blank EBT cards to access recipients' benefits inappropri- ately. Auditors found incomplete card inventory forms, cards left in unsecure locations, and the failure of regional offices to properly segregate the responsibilities of staff handling the cards. Missed Opportunities to Detect Fraud The technology DTA utilizes to administer benefits with EBT cards generates a number of reports which can assist DTA in the detection of potentially fraudulent activity, but today's audit found the reports were not being used. Analy- sis of the unused reports revealed over $15 million in EBT activity that should have been identified by DTA and investigated. The reports provided information on a number of poten- tial fraud patterns including; : Excessive Even-Dollar Transactions Food purchases rarely end in even-dollar amounts (elg. $I00.00, $250.00). Records showing numerous even-dollar transactions may indicate instances in which a retailer may be illegally exchanging a participant's SNAp benefits for cash. Audi- tors identified $1.5 million in even-dollar transactions that should have been investigated. , Excessive Re-issuances of EBT Cards ,a A recipient's requests for numerous EBT replacement cards may be an indication of the user engaging in EBT trafficking. Man- agement reports revealed that over 9,800 people had requested and received 10 or more EBT replacement cards since 2006, with one individual being issued as many as 127 cards in the same period. Out of State Withdrawals -- Although EBT transactions outside the Commonwealth are allowable under the law, reports on out-of-state use are a tool for identifying recipi- ents who might no longer be Massachusetts residents or are receiving duplicate benefits from other states. Audi- tors identified $4.58 million in out of state transactions that warranted DTA investigation. Full SNAP Balance Withdrawals - When retailers and recipients show a pattern of withdrawing an EBT cards full monthly value in one transaction it may indicate that the retailer and recipient are inappropriately exchanging SNAP benefits for cash. From the management reports, auditors identified $5 million in full balance withdrawals that war- ranted DTA investigation. Auditor Bump has called on DTA to implement a more proactive approach towards combating recipient and retailer fraud, waste, and abuse. She recommends that DTA imple- ment more effective data analytic tools and to utilize EBT management reports to better detect and reduce fraud. Also, Auditor Bump recommends that DTA improve its con- trols over handling blank EBT cards and regularly perform data matches with federal Social Security Administration databases. DTA has responded positively to all audit findings and as a result has developed a 100-day action plan to address the audit's concerns. DTA has also committed to strengthen its relationship with the Auditor's Bureau of Special Investigations to enhance the state's fraud fighting capabilities. "DTA provides invaluable assistance to some of our most vulnerable citizens," Auditor Bump said. "The integrity of DTA's programs and operations are vitally important to tax- payers and clients alike." The Office of the State Auditor conducts technical and performance assessments of state government's programs, departments, agencies, authorities, contracts, and vendors. With its reports, the OSA issues recommendations to improve accountability, efficiency, and transparency. The audit report will be made available online at www. / auditor. * News Briefs (Continued from Page 1) In the weeks since those students graduated, we have seen our so-called transpar- ent president not exactly as transparent as we had hoped he would be back when he said he wanted to be the most transparent president ever in American history. The IRS, AP reporters and Benghazi are piling up which seems the only thing transparent these days, eh. Republicans Need to Court Latinos Without tired of tax and spend Demo-Wonder Woman, she's think- crats who think we are their ing about Weight-Watchers. ATM machine. Finally ,,, Latest polls here in Mas- You know that quote from sachusetts show that in the Lord Byron I recently used US Senate Race Ed Markey elsewhere about denying is at 48 percent while Re- nothing and doubting every- pubiican Gabriel is within thing? It made me remem- striking distance at 41 per- ber a great piece of lyrics cent. Gomez is not as con- in a 40-year-old "Blood, servative as I would like but Sweat and Tears" tune he isn't an insider either, called "And When I Die." Can Gomez win? Did anyone Interesting song with one think Scott Brown would win line that still peaks my back in 20107 It isn't easy attention when I hear it; Selling Out Principles Lately there has been much talk about the all im- portant Latino vote in this country. To date, it would seem most Latinos are drawn to the Democratic Party much like Irish- and Italian Americans of my par- ents' generation were drawn to the same political party. I had started liking US Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida but lately he has been sounding like the Establishment Re- publican that gave us all kinds of dead candidates walking to defeat. Folks like Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney. The Republi- cans need to reach out to Latinos and African Ameri- cans who would react I be- lieve positively if given the right candidates on the bal- lot. Recently though on im- migration, Rubio is falling for a plan that won't work because it is being pushed by Republicans trying to sound like Democrats on the issue. You can't offer a path- way to citizenship until you do something about ~ the pathways at the borders that remain unsecured as illegals keep coming in. Se- cure the borders, then deal with pathways. Today, it is US Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas who appears to be moving front and center. He is a principled conservative who attracts Latino voters at the polls. He is not falling for the McCain way of kissing up to Latinos by offering much of what the Democrats already are offering. Cruz is a comer. He is highly educated and quite articulate. He must be mak- ing ground since Governor Bill Richardson has started attacking Cruz as not a real Latino. On the Nell Cavuto show on Fox, Cruz gave a great retort to Richardson saying, "In my view, if people...are attacking your ethnicity, that tends to in- dicate they don't want to en- gage in the substantive mer- its of their argument, and I certainly have no interest in getting into any sort of mud- slinging." The Republicans in 2016 would be very smart to find a place on the national ticket for Ted Cruz. If they end up with another Dole- McCain-Romney candidate, even "God Bless Him" Joe Biden could get elected as scary as that idea sounds. Also going with the tinfoil wing of the Republican Party with US Sen. Rand Paul will guarantee defeat too. We ~opin~ressed by~ ts~ not ~s~ Of~Post- ~e,~ need candidates in the Re- l~he~or PhO~s~b are tedbytl~Post- publican Party who can rep- vided are licate the Reagan Coalition. for photos,ab tos can We need to bring together working class Democrats and those moderate Inde- pendents who are getting being Republican in such a Blue State. Right now we could use more Republicans in office just to keep every- one doing the right thing. Quote to Note "When the well is dry, we know the worth of water." -- Ben Franklin Happy Birthday To ... Yes, Superman just cel- ebrated his birthday. He is now 75 years old. Barman by the way turns 75 years old next year. Wonder Woman is a younger 72 years old. They all qualify for meals on wheels and a discounted MBTA fare card. Superman isn't flying as much as he used to and it is getting too dark for Barman in his cave. Soon, he may need a seeing- eye Batdog for himself. As for "I swear there ain't no heaven, and I pray there ain't no hell. But I'll never know by living, only my dying will tell." Some things will always be mysteries to us. We don't have all the an- swers and probably will come to that conclusion eventu- ally. We don't have all the answers. We aren't as smart as we pretend. We struggle through life as the great un- known. We travel a road to somewhere and hope we get there in one piece. Deny nothing and doubt every- thing and, guess what, you will never be as disappointed as all those smart &A^%$ out there thinking they know everything there is to know. Boy are they going to be sorry someday, huh? NEAD Scholarships (Continued from Page 3) 2. Donated by Bill and Jen- nifer Lane awarded to Francis Shea. 3. Donated by Boston Po- lice Athletic League awarded to Nolan Ward: 4. Donated by Matt Conti awarded to Ashley DiForti. 5. Donated by a Friend of NEAD awarded to Adrien Patel 6. Donated by a Friend of NEAD awarded to Mariele DiPrizio. Two $250 Staples Gift Cards for Public School do- nated by Barbara Maldero in Loving Memory of her hus- band Louis and her grandson Louis awarded to Maria Fountas and Timothy Shea. The evening concluded with a pizza party in the Nazzaro Center with pizza generously donated by Regina Pizza on Thatcher Street. Thanks Regina's!! NEAD would like to thank everyone who donated to our Scholarship Program and making this night so successful. On Sale Now! THE NORTH END Where It All Began The Way It Was by Fred Langone SALE PRICE $19.95 Plus Shipping & Handling On Site at The Post-Gazette 5 Prince Street, North End, Boston, MA LETTERS POLICY The Post-Gazette invites its readers to submit Letters to the Editor. Letters should be typed, double-spaced and must include the writer's name, address and telephone number. Anonymous letters are not accepted for publication. Due to space considerations, we request that letters not exceed two double-spaced, type-written pages. This newspaper reserves the right to edit letters for style, grammar and taste and to limit the number of letters published from any one person or organization. Deadline for submission is 12:00 noon on the Monday prior to the Friday on which the writer wishes to have the material published. Submission by the deadline does not guarantee publication. Send letter to: Pamela Donnaruma, Editor, The Post-Gazette, P.O. Box 130135, Boston, MA 02113