As we reported exclusively last month, multiple sources at the S.C. Department of Social Services (SCDSS) tell FITS that the agency has been “cooking the books and supplying the federal government with false information” regarding its food stamp program.  Specifically, the agency has been accused of deliberately misleading the public regarding its food stamp error rate – thus creating artificial reductions that enable our state to receive more federal money.

In fact immediately after Lillian Koller was appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley to lead SCDSS in mid-February of 2011, South Carolina’s monthly food stamp error rate began to dramatically fall off.  By September 2011, it had completely vanished.  That’s right … according to SCDSS documents, the agency’s food stamp error rate in September 2011 was 0.00 percent.

Food stamps are obviously a big deal in South Carolina.  Roughly one in every five Palmetto State residents uses them – costing taxpayers $1.3 billion annually.  That’s one of the highest food stamp usage rates in the nation – and prior to Koller’s “miracle” our state also had one of the highest error rates, too.

But how could SCDSS pull off such a manipulation?  According to the employees we spoke with, it’s been easy.

“Case managers have admitted to inventing codes to close out cases to meet their goals,” one employee tells us. “Timeliness rates for (food stamps), workers can manipulate the date in the system to make it look like the client caused the delay. Then supervisors can issue supplements to the client and the case shows up as a timely case.”

Hmmmmm … such data manipulation certainly sounds like something the U.S. Department of Agriculture (which administers our nation’s food stamp program) would be interested in learning more about.

Previously SCDSS employees have told FITS that they “have been told by Koller to not find errors.”

FITS has received additional reports about serious systemic problems at SCDSS – which has been paying big money to Koller’s favored consultants in an effort to increase “efficiencies.”  Koller left a royal mess at the Hawai’i Department of Human Services – the agency she ran from 2003 until 2011 (when Haley hired her). In fact she was slapped with a federal lawsuit over tardy food stamp distribution.

As we’ve noted previously, it’s embarrassing that so many South Carolinians need food stamps in the first place (and that our state bureaucracy is this inept in distributing them).  The fact that we apparently have to lie in order to cover up our ineptness?

Sadly that’s par for the course in this state …