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South Carolina Department Of Aging Audit Finds Management And FOIA Issues

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More than 10 months after the South Carolina General Assembly requested an audit of the state agency in charge of the well-being of seniors, South Carolina’s Legislative Audit Council (SCLAC) released its report on the S.C. Department on Aging (SCDA).

The SCDA, just in its second year as a standalone cabinet agency as it was formally under the lieutenant governor’s office, is under new leadership since the audit was originally requested.

In 2019, Gov. Henry McMaster nominated the husband of one of his wife’s hair salon buddies Steven Morris to lead the agency, as our founding editor Will Folks previously reported. No, we are not kidding about that.

This move did not go over well, and “Morris earned a rare rebuke from the Republican-controlled S.C. Senate – which voted 41-2 against his nomination,” Folks reported. McMaster went ahead with the nominiation anyway and installed Morris on an interim basis.

Earlier this year, the S.C. Senate family and veterans services committee – chaired by Katrina Shealy – unanimously confirmed Connie Munn’s selection to replace Morris.

Specifically, the SCLAC was asked to review the following in the SCDOA audit:

  • revenue sources and funding
  • process of monitoring programs
  • human resources management practices
  • communication and practices within the agency
  • organizational and management structure

Though sources originally told us that staffers hoped the audit would lead to Morris’ removal (which happened before the audit was complete), the audit did reveal several key areas for the agency to improve on — particularly when it comes to problems within employees and management.

“The General Assembly should consider amending state law to require the Governor to consider experience in policies and programs for seniors when appointing someone for the position of director of the S.C. Department on Aging,” the SCLAC said in the report.

SCDOA has had ten directors since 2003, and the constant shifting of leadership has taken a toll on the agency, the audit found.

After surveying employees in January 2020, here are a few employee-related issues at SCDOA, according to the audit:

  • Fewer than half of employees said they believed what management told them.
  • Only half of employees believed the agency was free of gender discrimination.
  • 59 percent of employees believe employees do not respect management
  • Less than half employees said they felt they received enough training to do their jobs.
  • “SCDOA only requires training for 5 of the 16 offered programs and the agency lacked adequate documentation of training in each of those five.”

Here are some key findings from the audit report on SCDOA’s funding and revenue sources:

  • In fiscal year 2019-2020, SCDOA ” was appropriated $52.1 million, including $18.7 million in state general funds.
  • SCDOA “uses outdated data in its formula used to allocate federal funds to regions of the state.”
  • The audit found “significant numbers of older people on waiting lists for services around the state” and that SCDOA does not have a plan to help with the waiting lists, or a way to track data of waiting lists.

Other findings of the audit revealed FOIA violations. The report stated the following:

  • SCDOA likely violated state law by not publicizing or opening to the public its meetings with AAA directors. 
  • The S.C. Department on Aging should ensure that it publicizes and allows public access to its meetings with the directors of the area agencies on aging, and records, in written format, the content of these meetings. 
  • While the agency has complied with the time limits in state law for responding to Freedom of Information Act requests, it may have violated state law by not providing information for several requests to the long-term care ombudsman program. Internally, SCDOA has not formally conveyed to staff changes in policy, resulting in changes with little efficacy.

Here’s the full text of the audit.. ..

SCDOA

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