December 13, 2013

Maine CDC shredded documents justifying grant awards

Investigators find evidence that the award to at least one program was manipulated and that records justifying allocations were destroyed.

By Steve Mistler smistler@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Related Documents

Read the watchdog's report

The same tribal district received $370,000 in 2012. The district was one of four to receive increases in 2013 after the budget cuts for the Fund for a Healthy Maine.

DOCUMENTS TO JUSTIFY GRANTS GONE

Overall, the investigators found that the grant process was severely flawed, unorganized and subject to manipulation.

Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, blamed the LePage administration in a written statement. Craven represents part of the Western Maine health district, where the Healthy Androscoggin nonprofit took a 65 percent reduction in grant funding, which may lead to the elimination of some health programs.

“This level of mismanagement of public dollars is becoming the status quo under this administration,” Craven said. “Changing numbers to manipulate specific outcomes is dishonest.”

Sen. Emily Cain, D-Orono, co-chair of the Government Oversight Committee, said the findings are “extremely disappointing” and it is “extraordinarily frustrating” that many of the documents to justify the grant decisions no longer exist.

In a memo appended to the report, Mary Mayhew, commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, gave a written explanation for the grant process. She wrote that officials had to modify the process after the funding cut was approved by the Legislature and LePage.

The report notes that the CDC was well aware of the funding cut, but Mayhew wrote that “the specific funding level couldn’t be known until the budget was finalized.” She wrote, “This left the CDC a very short time to develop a plan of action for appropriate reduction of funds.”

With regard to findings that CDC officials ordered staff members to destroy public documents, Mayhew wrote that the DHHS legal team is working with the Maine State Archives to “review and update our records management policies and practices.”

Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at:

smistler@pressherald.com

Twitter: @stevemistler

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