OKLAHOMA CITY – Although lawmakers are still battling it out over a budget, many will come together to review how the Department of Health is using taxpayer dollars.
Earlier this month, the Oklahoma State Department of Health requested an emergency $30 million from the legislature. Agency officials said without the money, vital services could be shut down and the agency could fail to meet payroll in the next few weeks.
After an initial assessment, Interim Health Commissioner Preston Doerflinger said he discovered, since 2011, the department has been annually overspending on programs it can’t afford.
The mismanagement flew under the radar as money was moved around through several internal systems to keep operations afloat.
“This shows that there is a need for a different level of visibility into agencies that receive federal funds,” Doerflinger said.
Now, House Speaker Charles McCall is forming a special investigation committee to look into the agency’s use of taxpayer dollars.
“The allegations at the Department of Health are very concerning, and I share the public’s frustration with the mismanagement of at least $30 million in taxpayer funds,” said Speaker McCall. “The Legislature has the authority to conduct an investigation, and our members want that to begin as soon as possible. This is a very serious matter, and I would encourage those associated with these allegations to cooperate fully with our investigation.”
McCall said the committee will begin meeting following the Thanksgiving break.