Archive for Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Kansas SRS secretary pledges to keep eye on fraud

July 12, 2011


Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services Secretary Robert Siedlecki Jr. says his agency will focus on stopping waste and fraud.

“We have to have people’s trust that we are spending money wisely,” Siedlecki said Monday in an interview with the Journal-World.

Siedlecki has stirred a public outcry with his decision to shut down nine SRS offices, including Lawrence, which is by far the largest office set for closure.

Siedlecki and his boss, Gov. Sam Brownback, have said the closures are necessary to cut the state budget.

Advocates for the poor and those with disabilities say closing the office will mean an increase in crime and more emergencies because people will not be able to access services.

More than 600 people attended a meeting in Lawrence on Monday to protest the proposal. Siedlecki declined to attend the meeting, but met earlier in the day with Journal-World reporters and editors.

Among the topics he covered, Siedlecki said SRS will mount an anti-fraud and abuse effort including the hiring of an anti-fraud director.

Traveling around the state to various SRS offices, Siedlecki said he is hearing anecdotes about people abusing welfare benefits.

“They’re telling us horror stories,” he said.

Some of those, he said, include stories about people illegally selling Vision Cards, debit cards containing public assistance benefits, such as Food Stamps.

He said a person has to claim to have lost their Vision Card 10 times before SRS can investigate whether they are being sold. He said now SRS will start investigating after the second loss.


deec 6 years, 6 months ago

Yet another admin. position. I wonder how much this undoubtedly imported stooge will cost? This would seem to fall somewhat under the duties of the repealer. Or the KBI. Or even Sidekicky himself. He could be the intrepid welfare crime fighter. Mild mannered crony by day, caped crusader for welfare justice at night.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 6 months ago

Listening to NPR a couple of weeks ago, they were discussing ways to deal with the debt crisis. A senator (I don't recall which one) said that Medicare fraud came in at 20%. I wonder if SRS fraud runs at about the same number. And if so, what is a cost effective way to deal with that problem?

4accountability 6 years, 6 months ago

I think we may have to start by educating the public as to just what types of things constitute fraud.

Alceste 6 years, 6 months ago

The "fraud" being referred is the fraud being perpetrated by doctors, labs, and clinics who are double and triple billing. The "fraud" isn't being "perpetrated" by the's being perpetrated by the doctors and their labs....

4accountability 6 years, 6 months ago

I agree that the big dollars will be found in that type of fraud. The "nickel and dime" type where parent leaves kids with tax paid for childcare when they are not actually at work, care attendants and those they care for turning in extra hours than were actually worked, Vision balances being traded for cash at stores...the list goes on and on... is all fraud and should all be addressed.

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 6 months ago

You know what will increase fraud? Reducing access to trained professionals and relying on the internet to do business.

Also, interesting how the story about lost Vision cards has gone from "somebody told me" to being a fact that you have to lose your card 10 times.

Also interesting how this guy promised in February that investigations would happen after "three or four" lost cards. Now it is down to two, though apparently it hasn't been put in place yet.

See for Siedlecki making this exact same claim. Five months ago.

Five months later and it is still something they will do? What is the holdup?

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 6 months ago

Actually, in that article you referenced, he is quoted as saying" "Now, he said, SRS will investigate lost Vision Cards after the third or fourth report." which is it? After the 2nd time...or after the 3rd or 4th time? Or has Siedlecki changed his OWN rule twice in the last less-than-5 months? (And will the next iteration be "you can never lose your Vision card or you're sh*t out of luck"?)

As an aside, he was also quoted as saying "“If we were to give a voucher to an individual for, say, drug rehab and that individual chooses a faith-based provider on their own, then the organization can bring the religious message to them,” Siedlecki said. ”Without the restriction on proselytizing, Siedlecki said, more faith-based groups could reach out to those in need."

I don't know about you, but I think that any faith-based group that is focused on providing professional help to people with the types of issues SRS should be funding should already be reaching out to these people...and probably is. I know that, for some of my consumers, their faith is an important part of their recovery. If it brings them comfort and helps with their recovery, I'm all for it. And I don't mind some of my tax dollars going for professional treatment from those types of organizations.

However, if Siedlecki has his way, groups that are not focused on, say, recovery from mental illness or drug addiction but, rather, focused on conversion and 'faith-healing' will now also be encouraged to provide "services".

Like it or not, though, exorcisms and the laying on of hands does NOT "cure" schizophrenia. Telling someone that they are a sinner and a "Jezebel" and must repent because their father molested them when they were 4 years old does not* make them any such thing and certainly doesn't help them deal with their mental health/addiction issues. And telling someone to quit all their medications because, if their faith is strong enough, God will cure them only costs that person more misery...and us taxpayers more dollars when that person ends up at a state mental hospital for 30 days at a cost to taxpayers of over $13,000. . Sorry, but I don't want my tax dollars going for that.

William Weissbeck 6 years, 6 months ago

Anecdotes and horror stories. What next? Welfare queens driving Cadillacs? This isn't rocket science. Just like credit card usage, it's pretty easy to track the cards for unusual activity. But of course that would require actual SRS workers. It's much easier just to paint the poor as a bunch of crooks.

Khublai_Juan 6 years, 6 months ago

I agree with what you are saying about painting the poor as crooks, but am not sure what you are meaning by tracking the cards for unusual activity. If you have a vision card with only food stamps, you can only buy food, that's it. All thats needed is the pin number and anybody can use it at any time. If somebody sells the card and gives the person the pin, there is not going to be any unusual activity, its just going to show up as food purchases which is what the card is meant for, not sure what can be done about this. All SRS caseworkers have access to the system to track purchases, it doesn't show exactly what food is bought, but it shows the amounts spent, but even with this info, what looks unusual? People are given a certain benefit each month and when its gone its gone, they can't go to the office and say they lost the card and get more food stamps. One of the good ideas I have heard from Siedlecki, though, is that they are working with the DMV's contractor to see if it is financially feasible to have vision cards produced with the client's picture on it. That could be effective, if the picture is a woman and man is using the card its pretty obvious he shouldn't be using it.

4accountability 6 years, 6 months ago

Here is a good example.

"13 Kansas residents indicted following food stamp fraud investigation"

Khublai_Juan 6 years, 6 months ago

I had heard of this and agree that this is a good example of catching fraud by SRS, but I would like to see a better way to control the use of vision cards by those who are not entitled. The large and one-time amounts of these purchases might have sent up a red flag, but I am inclined to believe that this operation got noticed because of word of mouth from those participating in the scheme. The wrong person probably found out what was going on and reported it, as opposed to SRS tracking "unusual activity" on vision cards. What about the people who get somebodies vision card and go and drop $200 on groceries at Dillon's? This is not really out of place and the majority of fraud probably occurs at the big supermarkets like this anyway. In a town like Wichita, there are way more than 13 people engaging in continuous food stamp fraud and there has to be a better way of finding this fraud, I just don't believe that it can be tracked easily through the EBT system, which was my point above.

Alceste 6 years, 6 months ago

4accountability is seemingly focused on the miniscule amount of fraud being perpetrated by the underclass of our society.

Is 4accountability all worried about this type of fraud: or this manner of public welfare fraud: ??

Will SRS focus on the big buck frauds or just the dinky $150.00 overpayment "frauds"??

How about the frauds who are being appointed to SRS offices that they have not clue one in how to prove diddly, but obtained same because they are Republican stooges?

Here's some more fraud to look at:

Oh! Wait! That one cannot be occured in Florida.

Just what kind of accountability are you 4? The kind that protects your own but goes after nickle and dime cheats? is all about FRAUD in Kansas perpetrated by SRS big whigs who tried to blame it on workers. Sorry.....Alceste has the memo's DIRECTING managers to "re-date in the computer system" applications for cash and food stamp assistance. It had nothing to do with workers trying to protect their performance evaluations.

You're a fox in the hen house, 4accountability. I make certain to have each and every one of your posts correct. No worries if they're correct from the get, but at this's pretty clear you're an apologist for a Grade D political rich boy....and a crude mofo at that.....he wouldn't know a Picasso from R. Crumb. Sit down, please.

4accountability 6 years, 6 months ago

I say go after all fraud, big or small, by the rich or the poor. No discrimination here.

It would be helpful to talk about current events. I doubt if a memo from 2006 should be connected to current management policy or practice.

Alceste 6 years, 6 months ago

The 2006 matter is simply a metaphor. SRS is itself a fraudulent operation which has nothing to do with Brownback, Republicans, Democrats, etc. It has everything to do with an embracement of mediocrity and the use of "sound bytes" with terms like "consumers" instead of clients; "winking" around Federal rules and regulations to appear above board, but, finally being found out, typically years after the fact that the mediocre simply couldn't figure a way to deal with federal rules and regulations because their thinking is so simplistic. Public welfare administration is complex, difficult, and not particularly rewarding. SRS has, historically, run off it's brightest and bestest minds because the simpletons who have been in the same seats for 25 and 30 years get scared. As an example, Mary Hoover, who is the Chief Auditor for SRS and who has been so for ions, wouldn't know how to ferret out fraud from within (or without) if it bit her on the backside. She was kept by Brownback for God only knows why.....specious purposes to start with.....

William Weissbeck 6 years, 6 months ago

Reading your replies, most of this is nothing new. Are we surprised that the homeless sell their cards in order to buy alcohol or drugs? Who knows, they might sell the cards to pay rent. Unfortunately, capitalism works at both ends of the economic spectrum. It's just not that big of a problem at the lower end to command this type of grandstanding by the director. This is really just his and the department's everyday job to limit misuse of the funds. Anyone want to bet that the same grocers that were indicted didn't pay their sales tax and avoided cigarette and liquor taxes, too? For many, this is the business model. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to uncover it. Problem is that if you shut them down, there might not be anyone to take their place in the inner cities.

Evan Ridenour 6 years, 6 months ago

Mister Siedlecki, Sir, I have an idea of how to solve most of the problems in the SRS organization. How about the executive branch first start by looking at..................

Hiring out of state lunatics with zero experience in managing large organizations generally, running executive branch offices generally, managing even a single staff member, or who have a history of committing atrocities in the state they were "hired away from" (cough Florida cough SRS like position cough children misplaced who died cough lack of accountability for what should be a criminal act of incompetency that is instead rewarded with a cushy, high paying job with zero accountability by a Republican Governor who professes that he "loves" children and is "Christian" cough)

Katara 6 years, 6 months ago

Oh sure. Because he did so well in controlling fraud in FL....

tomatogrower 6 years, 6 months ago

How about some stories of the SRS success stories instead of the fraud. They far outnumber the frauds. But we never get to hear about the people SRS has helped during a rough time, and are now successful. That would make it too hard to cut off the funds. Come on, LJWorld. How about some stories about SRS successes.

4accountability 6 years, 6 months ago

I think it would be great to hear about both. The reality is that both exist and we can learn from each.

Alceste 6 years, 6 months ago

The reality within SRS in Kansas as well as, essentially, across the land is that PRWORA, which was enacted in 1996 is a failure. What it has been successful in is time limiting the length individuals can receive cash assistance under TANF (5 years) as opposed to the old AFDC which was limitless. Built into PRWORA was jobs training and that was touted as the being the corner stone to ending the cycle of poverty.

However, just like the old WIN program (Work Incentive Program) the job training and education aspect of PRWORA (see since I suspect most don't really understand Public Welfare ) has been a dismal failure as instead of barbers and cosmotologists....which is what WIN generated in the "olden times", PRWORA is generating massage therapists and service sector lumpenproletariat doomed to a lifetime of McDonald's and Wal-Mart with marginal hours and no health insurance.

What the liberals don't get is that Public Welfare is NOT primarily dealing with children, child abuse and neglect and the disabled: It's dealing primarily with financial matters as briefly described above and horrendous medical costs. The real heros are those people who work in that section of any Public Welfare agency. Kansas has continually failed to meet it's “Maintenance of Effort” (MOE) requirement, although artificially showing to the feds that it has. Fraud. Medicaid spending has far outpaced other social assistance spending over the past twenty-five years.

Yes, there are some who use TANF as springboards to the lower middle class (which itself is shrinking), but the overwhelming vast majority get their five years; "age out" of the system; and are but another statistic that is no longer kept or counted.

Alceste 6 years, 6 months ago

"The TANF program does not offer benefits sufficient to lift recipients out of poverty, and despite a strong economy, the majority of families who have moved off the TANF rolls have remained in poverty. Considerations of another traditional economic goal, reduction of inequality, only makes matters worse. Welfare reform has coincided with massive growth in income and wealth disparities; it has done little to slow the expansion of inequality and may have actually accelerated the trend. Has welfare reform created job opportunities for the poor? Has it promoted wages that allow low-wage workers to escape poverty? In both of these areas, the economic story remains the same: we have little evidence that reform has produced achievements that warrant the label of success." (Soss, Joe; Success Stories).

4accountability 6 years, 6 months ago

You are correct...I think last check Kansas rated 49 out of the 50 states. Don't remember who was dead last but Kansas has a lot of cacthing up to do.

Jan Rolls 6 years, 6 months ago

He needs to keep an eye on himself since he is the biggest fraud around.

4accountability 6 years, 6 months ago

Cutting the cost of fraud can only serve to help more people who are truly in need. There has been a "look the other way" attitude far too long. Not only with the acts committed by individuals but also by providers. This will potentially be significant amounts of money.
This is a positive step. What thinking person would be against preventing theft and fraud?

Katara 6 years, 6 months ago

I don't think there is a "look the other way attitude". I think it is more of simply not having the manpower to investigate fraud.

Closing down offices and slashing budgets will not accomplish controlling fraud because there are not enough people to combat it.

I think they are going about this backwards. Tackle fraud. See how much that reduces costs and then if you still need to cut costs, then consider closing offices or laying off people.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 6 months ago

"Closing down offices and slashing budgets will not accomplish controlling fraud because there are not enough people to combat it"

Perhaps that is correct. But if we assume they were unable to combat fraud prior to the cutbacks, perhaps the cutbacks are just a departure from a failed strategy. Of course, that's assuming the previous staffing levels were even interested in combatting fraud. And that assumes that fraud even exists at a level that could be cost effectively targeted. Oh well, lots of food for thought.

Katara 6 years, 6 months ago

Those are good points.

We really don't know to what extent fraud exists. We don't know if there was a focus on combating fraud previously. I don't think it was whether or not staff though fraud was worth investigating. That is usually a decision made much higher up than the local staff level.

jafs 6 years, 6 months ago

My wife, who has had a fair amount of contact with SRS over the years, tells me they have been understaffed and overworked.

Perhaps simply increasing the staff would provide a reasonable way to allow for more investigations into possible fraud.

Katara 6 years, 6 months ago

I like the idea of a dedicated unit (of more than just 1) to combat fraud. Corporations have fraud units to help keep fraud losses down. Why not try something similar?

You could have staff dedicated to fraud perpetuated by medical groups and businesses (such as grocery stores that swap cash for benefits) and staff dedicated for fraud by individuals.

4accountability 6 years, 6 months ago

You may be right but when apparent fraud cases were brought to the attention of previous administrations by other state or local agencies they simply did not address it. Some of that can be attributed to a lack of manpower designed to do that. I think this new administration is on the right track in putting a real unit in place.
It would have been nice to see if enough money could be "recovered" to save other functions or offices but I expect the budget restrictions had to be addressed immediately. Poor planning in previous years DID create an emergency this year.

4accountability 6 years, 6 months ago

There is no "Link" available as they were never public. Instances were reported to SRS staff by other state agencies or even local agencies in communities and follow up with central office SRS resulted in finding no action having been taken.

jafs 6 years, 6 months ago

So far the "unit" consists of one person.

deec 6 years, 6 months ago

I think Dave Trabek or whatever his name is has an alter ego.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 6 months ago

Who probably will make $90,000 a year and is faith-focused.

Alceste 6 years, 6 months ago

Don't leave out the card carrying Republican Party membership criteria.....

deec 6 years, 6 months ago

Maybe they wouldn't have to close to many offices if they weren't hiring $300/hour outside lawyers to do the attorney general's job. If he needed help, Kobach should have kicked in some hours. After all, he's got plenty of free time to litigate on behalf of other states and cities.

Alceste 6 years, 6 months ago

Brownback was ELECTED in a free and impartial election. How did such an event occur....and that question doesn't even address how on Earth he was elected to the U.S. Senate by the voters in Kansas.....?

The answer to the above question is that the PEOPLE of the state of Kansas put this clown into office. The voters in Kansas LIKE what the guy is doing.....maybe you might want to study the abstract concept of a tyranny of the majority because if you think this situation is bad.....just wait.....MORE is a comin', Ma!~

jafs 6 years, 6 months ago

He was elected governor by about 1/3 of the eligible voters in KS.

Turnout was about 50%, and 2/3 of those voted for him.

So, he doesn't even represent a majority of eligible KS voters.

Alceste 6 years, 6 months ago

So what? Voter turnout means nothing. Same as here in Lawrence and who elected the current City Commission. It is what it with it or do something about it

Katara 6 years, 6 months ago

Well, it means that it is not tyranny of the majority but rather tyranny of the minority.

Alceste 6 years, 6 months ago

Good for you that you can own that the providers perpetrate fraud.....perpetrate it each and every day in financial and metaphorical ways. They've been permitted to get away with such fraud for years and years as has SRS itself. Here's a quote from the feds about a recent penalty SRS had to pay for FRAUD on SRS' part:

"Concerning the A-133 audit finding for the State of Kansas, a penalty has been cited for $173,461.00."

Nadine Roth Region VII Grants Management Officer 601 East 12th Street, Room 276 Kansas City, MO 64106-2808 Phone (816) 426-2281 Fax (816) 426-2888

4accountability 6 years, 6 months ago

Agreed and the real test will come when we see if the new administration (no matter what their political affiliation) can do better. I tend to be a critic but strongly believe in giving them a chance before casting the final vote.

Alceste 6 years, 6 months ago

I concur with 4, however, having seen these types of "thrusts" for close to 40 years, I suggest that the focus shall be on the nickle and dimes of the "welfare cheat" rather than on the gazillions of dollars of the monied vendors and the "deals" they cut with Grade C "agency lawyers" once their manner of fraud is uncovered.

The public enjoys reading about train wrecks and prefer, likes crabs clawing their way out of a bucket, to read about welfare cheats as reading about vendor fraud is rather dry.shrug

4accountability 6 years, 6 months ago

I am curious...who was the competent manager you reference?

4accountability 6 years, 6 months ago

You think the previous SRS administration has not lost children? At any given time there have been a 100-150 or more children in state custody who are listed as AWOL. Plenty of kids age out of the system in that missing status. No ones knows if they are dead or alive. Not much media attention in Kansas but it happens. Also,does the name Adam Herrman ring a bell?

Alceste 6 years, 6 months ago

Don Jordan was another bought and paid for head bobbing yes boy. He just wore the garb of a Democrat. His buddy, Greg Valentine, who is currently "running" Osawatomie State Hospital and Rainbow Mental Health Facility for SRS needs/ought to be shaking in his boots.....

4accountability 6 years, 6 months ago

Greg Valentine is no longer with SRS.

I do agree with your comment about Don Jordan.

Alceste 6 years, 6 months ago

Excellent.....Good Riddance to Valentine. Kindly request to have the SRS web site corrected. Too, is, evidently, no longer the official web site. Rather, seems to now be the official site.

Alceste 6 years, 6 months ago

Vis-a-vis Valentine, I have found:

among others.

You're a curious poster to me, 4, given the screen name only began posting when this SRS "stuffs" began happening.

Thus far, all I'm seeing is Brownback surronding himself with headbobbers and providing employment to Republican Party strumpets and pimps who were in need of high paying jobs. Brownback already has mapped out what he wants to happen for Kansas and simply needs the bodies to attach the strings to.....I admit I made a mistake many years ago and should have become the "professional politico" I was "groomed" to be; however, I wasn't focused on the fact it would lead to constant and very well paid employment in do nothing jobs which I had no real action information about. The appointment of Robert Siedlecki Jr being but one example: A "professional Republican"; possessing the brain the size of a pea; losing his only run for office in Florida; switching to "chief of staff" (whatever that is); and now being nothing more than a mouthpiece for Brownback. I had no clue back in '72 that my end goal should have been constant and ever increasing salary simply to bend over when directed.

My money says that the replacements for Valentine and Connell will first and foremost be card carrying Republican Party members. However, in no way could they be any worse than Valentine and Connell. It's just business as usual.

Valentine ran a reign of terror first in the NE Region of SRS; shifted the terror over to KC Metro; made his way over to Osa. and now he's out on the street. Oh well.....he had MANY an employee escorted out of an SRS building. I suspect e he too got that manner of red carpet's the Kansas way of saying "Thanks!". shrug

Alceste 6 years, 6 months ago

Less than 2% of all people on welfare in the USA commit fraud

What about real fraud? Here's a recent story that got some attention, although not enough:

US Department of Agriculture and Treasury Combine Forces to Combat Payment Fraud; Income Data Provided by IRS Will be Used by USDA to Validate Payment Eligibility

uncleandyt 6 years, 6 months ago

To keep an eye on fraud, We can't just leave this to God. Return your peas to the pod. Do not consider us odd. What we don't pave we can sod. The Jesus fish was a cod. Food minus one O is fod. Foot with no shoe is not shod. Oh no, We spoiled the rod. Some shall get cash by the wad. The Kochs continually nod. Divide and conquer, applaud

Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

Frauds = are they watching themselves?

Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services Secretary Robert Siedlecki Jr. is of the former BUSHCO admin who relocated from Florida to take the job.

Corporate white collar private industry = the most reliable source of fraud for example:

Medical Insurance Fraud

The Bad Doctor

webewatchinu 6 years, 6 months ago

Reading the replies I get the impression many of you are KU liberals or very naïve. Allow me to explain the two most common types of fraud SRS deals with. No, not Medical fraud which may be the most costly but most common is Food assistance and Daycare fraud. SRS as the leader in the nanny state has made a sand trap for its clients. A family of seven, with no “reported” income receives approximately $1,300.00 in food assistance every month. (How do go back to work when you get that much free?)They receive it tax free and pay no sales tax on the food purchased. The SRS customer buys the food they need, and some “over priced” pop at QT,(Why do the card work at QT?) and still has money on the card. Remember they did not that much food, the kids were fed breakfast and lunch for free at school. They sell what is left on the card for .50 cents on the dollar. Whoever buys the card needs the card and the pin. The SRS customer then drives to SRS and reports the card stolen and gets a new one before the state loads the card back up with$1,300.00 for the next month. While the SRS worker has a massive take home pay of $2,000.00 a month to pay for food,(with sales tax), car payment, rent ect. The USDA is little to no help in the matter unless you can give them the BIG ring. With the use of the vision card each customer is an independent contractor, no need for the food stamp coupon ring anymore. The policies of SRS made during the 35 years of liberal bleed heart control, leaves the investigator no teeth to keep the person off assistance or fine them when proof is found they have sold their card. So how many cards should they get?, How do you weed out the thieves from the unlucky and or stupid. Now you can blog how wrong I am when you have never worked for SRS or investigated a fraud crime involving a Government freebee agency. I will get back to you on the mess that is daycare paid by SRS

deec 6 years, 6 months ago

Why shouldn't they be able to buy food at convenience stores? In many inner city neighborhoods, those are the only food stores there are. Regarding the rest of your post, it would seem a bit more plausible if it were a little more grammatically correct. I hope you are not, as you imply, an SRS case worker. I believe those jobs require a college education.

webewatchinu 6 years, 6 months ago

Really, that is all you come back with? Just trying to sound like my president. I guess the issue is the writing now because you cannot argue the point, OK that is normal for a LIB. You have big inner city problem in Lawrence? HA! (Why shouldn't they be able to buy food at convenience stores?) Uuummm, I am paying for it.

Alceste 6 years, 6 months ago

Well, actually, you're not. People get foodstamps only.....and fuel Agri-Business, price subsidies, and price supports.

Were the foodtamp program to stop this very me.....poor children would find a way to's them Agri-Business boys that would be hurting. Really.

ProveIt 6 years, 3 months ago

I know a clan of drug dealers/welfare frauds in Lawrence Kansas. They're gross. Where do I turn them in for welfare fraud? They have literally stolen from every level and type of government entity they could since about the year 1980.

They even had their gross daughter have a baby a few years back to add more cash to the pot. No one even paid for its birth, much less the upkeep of it's obese behind and obese mom and obese adopted mom (bio grandma). Sigh...what's the phone number or email to knock 'em out of welfare for good? They're fine, simply don't want to work.

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