Wisconsin Department of Children and Families cancels a contract that would have implemented a new attendance tracking measure with the goal of combating millions of dollars of fraud at state-funded child care centers.
Joan Hansen, Deputy Secretary at the agency, says the project is inadequate and she blames the Doyle Administration. “The previous Administration put forth a contract that, quite frankly, was not well conceived.”
The state has already paid out almost $500,000 on the contract before scrapping it — money the state won’t get back. But rather than throwing more good money after bad, Hansen says they decided to re-examine the fraud prevention strategies at the Wisconsin Shares child care program. “The bigger picture for taxpayers to look at is that this (Walker) Administration caught the inefficiencies of the program that otherwise may not have been caught and with the potential to cost taxpayers over $6 million.”
Hansen says the contractor did not meet designated benchmarks and the system is not reliable for scanning kids under five, which would exclude almost 60 percent of the kids receiving the benefit. She says, it’s important to look at the big picture. Among other things, officials saved millions of dollars through anti fraud efforts, suspended over 200 providers, closed 47, and created a fraud hotline.
Representative Robin Vos (R-Burlington) says the implementation struggles with the former vendor is no reason to abandon the initiative altogether. He says it took years to uncover the fraud so it should not be surprising that finding solutions may also take time.
An investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel uncovered the fraud in the system.