Auditor McGuiness Finds Long-Term Care Facilities Needed Clearer Guidance, Assistance During Early Stages of Pandemic

DOVER, DELAWARE – Delaware’s long-term care facilities, which have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, needed clearer guidance and assistance from the state during the early stages of the pandemic, State Auditor Kathy McGuiness said today.

“My team reviewed publicly reported COVID-19 data at the state and federal levels, and they surveyed and interviewed long-term care facility administrators,” McGuiness said. “What we learned was that confusing and sometimes conflicting guidance from state and federal officials led those administrators to ask the state many questions – and those imperative questions were often not answered in a timely manner.

In a new special report, titled “Unanswered Questions: Improving Technology, Communications, and Reporting in Long-Term Care Facilities During the Pandemic,” McGuiness highlights three observations about COVID-19 reporting by and communication to the state’s long-term care facilities (LTCFs):

  1. Pandemic information: COVID-19 guidance changed frequently, came from multiple sources, was hard to interpret or was completely absent.
  2. Crisis communications: When faced with difficult situations, LTCFs were unable to contact or receive timely assistance from state health agencies.
  3. Pandemic reporting: Data reported to the federal government did not match data reported through state Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) news releases; 18 LTCFs were not reporting data to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

“Long-term care facility residents are among those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” McGuiness said. “Regardless of whether you look at state or federal data, that much is clear.”

McGuiness pointed out that her team’s research shows that state health officials have worked diligently to provide guidance to LTCFs since the beginning of the pandemic.

“I applaud Delaware’s health officials for their tireless work over the last year to guide Delawareans through this pandemic,” McGuiness said. “This special report is meant to help state health officials see specific areas related to long-term care facilities so they can improve their communication, guidance and data reporting to provide an accurate picture of how these facilities’ residents and staff are being affected.”

To make her determinations, McGuiness directed her team to survey LTCF administrators about the guidance and assistance their facilities received both at the beginning of the pandemic and six months later. The team also reviewed federal and state guidance provided to LTCFs during those time periods, as well as publicly available data on CMS.gov and on Delaware’s official website, news.delaware.gov.

The new special report, which offers six recommendations for improvement, can be found on the Auditor’s Office website here.

Under Delaware Code 2909, the Auditor of Accounts may produce special reports that examine state agencies’ performance and offer recommendations for greater accuracy and efficiency, as well as data, information and recommendations the auditor deems advisable and necessary.

Learn about the Delaware Auditor’s Office at https://auditor.delaware.gov.

###

Contact:

Alaina Sewell, Chief of Staff

302-857-3931

Alaina.Sewell@delaware.gov


State Auditor Kathy McGuiness Releases Findings From 2020 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report

State Auditor Kathy McGuiness released the findings from the state’s Fiscal Year 2020 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR) earlier this week. The ACFR is a massive, wide-ranging engagement that includes more than 25 separate audits of state agencies and programs, and it plays a large role in helping Delaware maintain its AAA bond rating.

“I am proud to work with state agencies each year to complete this enormous undertaking because that collaboration means government transparency and accountability for all Delawareans so they can see how where their tax dollars are being spent,” McGuiness said.

Read the full report on auditor.delaware.gov.


State Auditor McGuiness To Monitor American Rescue Plan Funding Sent to Delaware

DOVER, DELAWARE – With Delaware set to receive $1.25 billion from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), State Auditor Kathy McGuiness said today she will monitor the federal stimulus money sent to Delaware’s state, county and local governments.

“The amount of federal fiscal aid coming to county and local governments is unprecedented,” McGuiness said. “As the state’s fiscal watchdog, I will be monitoring the flow of these millions of taxpayer dollars to help ensure the money is used as intended: To help Delawareans recover from the financially detrimental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

McGuiness’ plan to follow the money involves the following:

  • Identifying state and local government recipients of the federal dollars;
  • Creating and maintaining an online fund tracker to help the public see how much money each governmental entity has received; and
  • Continued monitoring of her office’s fraud tip hotline for any reports of misused ARP funds.

Once the state has expended its ARP funds, McGuiness said, she will use a risk-based assessment model to determine exactly which state entities her office will audit for compliance.

To help cover her office’s costs to monitor the ARP roll-out, McGuiness has asked that the state allocate $3 million of the CARES Act money Delaware received.

“Providing my office with $3 million so that my team and I can track how $1.25 billion is divvied up and expended is a no-brainer,” McGuiness said. “That’s using 0.2 percent of the total to ensure the other 99.8 percent is spent effectively and efficiently.”

McGuiness continues to provide weekly updates on which state agencies have received and spent their allotment of the $927.23 million in CARES Act funds from the federal government. That fund tracker, which is updated each Monday, can be found online here.

Members of the public can report suspected fraud, waste and abuse of state tax money by calling 1-800-55-FRAUD (1-800-553-7283) or by filling out and submitting this form.

Learn about the Delaware Auditor’s Office at https://auditor.delaware.gov.

Contact: Quinn Ludwicki, Executive Assistant 302-382-7270, Quinn.Ludwicki@delaware.gov.

###


State Auditor McGuiness: Delaware’s CARES Act Funding Spend Increases by $12 Million Over Previous Week

DOVER, DELAWARE – Delaware state agencies have so far spent 72.1 percent of the $927 million the state received in federal CARES Act funding, State Auditor Kathy McGuiness said today.

“The CARES Act resulted in an unprecedented amount of federal funding to our state,” McGuiness said. “The CARES Act Fund Tracker allows taxpayers to see a breakdown of how much money each state agency has spent.”

As of March 5, 2021, $668.1 million has been spent, which represents an increase of $12 million over the previous week. Most of the week’s increase – $10 million – was spent by the Delaware Emergency Management Agency.

In March 2020, the federal government passed the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provided payments to state and local governments as they navigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on its population, Delaware received $927.23 million.

The CARES Act Fund Tracker can be found on the Auditor’s Office website here. The site is updated each Monday.

Learn about the Delaware Auditor’s Office at https://auditor.delaware.gov.

Contact: Quinn Ludwicki, Executive Assistant 302-382-7270, Quinn.Ludwicki@delaware.gov.

###


State Auditor McGuiness Releases Clean Audits of Brandywine, Colonial School District Construction Projects

DOVER, DELAWARE – Recent financial audits of construction projects at Brandywine and Colonial school districts showed both districts spent funds they received for the projects appropriately, State Auditor Kathy McGuiness said today.

“It’s always reassuring to verify that taxpayer money has been spent efficiently and effectively,” McGuiness said. “School construction projects can be extremely expensive and cost taxpayers millions of dollars.”

In Brandywine School District, the audit examined school construction projects between 2017 and June 30, 2019. During that time, Brandywine renovated Carrcroft Elementary, Brandywine High School and Claymont Elementary; demolished the Burnett School; and relocated a facility.

In Colonial School District, the audit examined one project completed by June 30, 2019. During that time, Colonial renovated the John G. Leach School.

The Delaware Auditor’s Office is legislatively mandated to perform school construction audits once projects are finished.

To read the Brandywine School District audit, click here.

To read the Colonial School District audit, click here.

Learn about the Delaware Auditor’s Office at https://auditor.delaware.gov.

Contact: Alaina Sewell, Executive Assistant, Alaina.Sewell@delaware.gov, 302-857-3931