The federal government is investigating the state welfare agency over allegations of falsified food stamp data, it was confirmed Friday.
The allegation is that Social and Rehabilitation Services falsified the dates on food stamp applications to show that they had been considered in a timely manner under federal regulations, when they had not.
"We're checking it out," said Darlene Barnes, regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Food and Nutrition office in Denver.
Barnes said her office has been monitoring the situation at the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services and plans another review next month.
A complaint about the alleged tampering last year prompted an internal SRS review, according to records obtained by the Journal-World.
The review looked at 31 cases selected at random and found "application dates had been changed for 25 applications solely for the purpose of meeting FS (food stamps) timeliness."
The cases looked at were taken from service centers in Atchison, Hiawatha, Lyndon and Topeka. The report states the changed dates didn't result in any loss of benefits.
SRS spokesman Mike Deines said the agency received a complaint from an SRS employee about altered dates on food stamp applications and found that employees had indeed changed the dates.
"One of our big pushes is customer service. These dates were part of the evaluation of workers, so there may have a been an effort to make these reports look good and on time," Deines said.
He said SRS took corrective action and has done periodic reviews since late last year to make sure the re-dating hasn't happened again. He said no employees were reprimanded.
Deines said SRS believes it has resolved the issue.
Barnes, the federal regional administrator, declined to speculate on what penalties, if any, Kansas could face. She emphasized the state agency "took corrective action."
In recent months, Kansas has been forced to refund millions of dollars in federal funds.
In June, Kansas paid the federal government $18.5 million after a federal audit disputed the formula used to bill Medicaid for services for school children with special needs.
And in May, the state refunded $14.1 million after an audit showed Medicaid had been billed 12 months of services per year instead of the allowed nine months.
State officials have blamed the spending mistakes, in part, on changing federal rules on reimbursement of Medicaid costs.