Governor Gina Raimondo has ordered a complete overhaul of The Department of Children, Youth, and Families. The child welfare agency has signed tens of millions of dollars in contracts with no financial controls or oversight.
A new audit reveals the agency failed to follow basic accounting practices. Contracts with service providers were signed without competitive bidding, purchase orders, or performance measures. Jamia McDonald has been leading the top to bottom review of the agency.
“And then [the contract] would be funded with no measurement or true-up or invoice verification after the dollars had been sent," said McDonald. "From a financial, government, regulatory perspective, we can’t see where those dollars are going so we don’t know if we are doing what we want to achieve with that investment.”
McDonald says most contracts will have to be canceled and rebid. Parts of DCYF will be reorganized and new technology introduced.
McDonald says the agency's financial inefficiency has left caseworkers without the funds they need to do their jobs.
“The often have to drive their own vehicles if our fleet, which is not necessarily maintained, is not available," said McDonald. "And yes, they are scrounging and sharing car seats to make sure the children are safe, because we have not stepped back and said, 'what do you need to effectively do your job?'”
An expert from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government calls it the worst case of financial mismanagement he’s ever seen at a child welfare agency.