by Benjamin Yount
State auditors say almost all of the nearly $21 billion in federal money that came to Wisconsin last year was properly spent.
The Legislative Audit Bureau released a report into state spending of federal dollars from the fiscal year 2020-21 state budget.
“In FY 2020-21, state agencies administered $20.8 billion in federal financial assistance, including $6.6 billion that was related to the public health emergency,” the auditors wrote. “Our audit focused on 24 federal programs that accounted for 82.3 percent of the federal financial assistance administered by state agencies.”
Almost half of Wisconsin’s federal money, some $10.2 billion, went to the state’s Department of Health Services. Another $3.8 billion went to the Department of Workforce Development. The 2020-2021 budget covered Wisconsin’s spike in unemployment, and the billions of dollars spent to help people who lost their jobs because of coronavirus-related government restrictions.
The UW System got $1.9 billion and the state’s Department of Public Instruction received $1.1 billion of its own.
Auditors tracked the spending from the state agencies, and flagged just $314,531 in “questioned costs.”
Most of those costs, some $215,480, was spent through the Wisconsin Department of Health Services on payments to terminated providers. Another $72,523 was spent at DHS on “unallowable costs” as part of the state’s coronavirus relief program.
“Since FY 19, there has been an increase of over $8.4 billion in federal funding to the State of Wisconsin, dramatically increasing the budgets of many programs. This report, the annual Single Audit, is the foundation of accountability for the expenditure of federal funds in Wisconsin,” State Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, said in a statement. “ As the findings of this audit identified, there are several areas of deficiency that need to be address by the Administration to avoid potential improprieties, such as unallowable payments and noncompliance. I look forward to continuing to identify improvements in programs that had received pandemic-related federal funding.”
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Benjamin Yount is a regular contributor the The Center Square.