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Audit: Oklahoma health department “glossed over” major accounting problems

OKLAHOMA CITY – More details from an audit of the Oklahoma State Department of Health show the department “glossed over” major accounting problems and used “a slush fund with millions of dollars that allowed the Department to absorb budget cuts and revenue failures without reducing expenditures.”

The report also said “Senior Leadership routinely exaggerated revues to support the expenditures they budgeted” and “The COO testified decisions made by the Interim Commissioner to bring over 'cronies' from OMES to help run OSDH led to her resignation.”

“The $30 million that was appropriated was not needed,” said State Auditor Gary Jones. "The money is sitting in the account right now. They did not have to dip into that at all."

Representative Kevin Calvey of Edmond helped investigate.

“When the agency heads came in, they weren’t under oath and we felt like they weren’t telling us the truth,” said Calvey, who believes the problem goes beyond the Oklahoma Health Department. “If it happens at this agency, it’s almost assuredly happening at most other agencies, as well. And, the reason we know that is because, under oath, the former secretary of finance, Preston Doerflinger, who resigned in disgrace, testified under oath that he looked at certain types of documents when he approved the health department’s budget all those years. And, then, we asked him ‘What documents did you review for all the other agencies?’ And, it was the exact same type of documents.”

He said regular, intense audits are necessary of all major state departments.

“We should be doing that every year,” Calvey said. “Basically, it should be a year around process where the legislative committees that have subpoena power so they can make the bureaucrats give us their documentation to prove what they’re saying, and then put them under oath where if they lie to us then there’s a penalty for it.”