Somehow, $30 million disappeared from the Oklahoma Department of Public Health. The news comes at a time when the Oklahoma legislature hasn’t been able to pass a budget to account for a nearly $900 million budget hole.
The state has seen a string of resignations over the last month since the news broke about the “accounting tricks” used to give the illusion of a balanced budget, said interim director Preston Doerflinger. Tuesday, the FBI announced that it would be investigating the department and those involved in making the decisions that led to the disappearance, the Tulsa World reported.
“I appreciate the collaboration of the FBI and HHS in insuring that we can conduct a thorough and exacting review of the situation at OSDH,” Attorney General Mike Hunter said in a statement. “We will get to the bottom of what happened there.”
In wake of the announcement of the “error,” the Department of Health asked the legislature to give them the $30 million so they could continue to lay off staff and pay existing vendor contracts.
Gov. Mary Fallin’s (R) top staffers were subpoenaed to testify before a state House committee for their investigation. However, Republican state Rep. Josh Cockroft explained his committee’s investigation isn’t criminal in nature. A multicounty grand jury has also been called.
According to Oklahoma Watch, there were watchdogs in place who should have caught the error.
“The State Auditor and Inspector’s Office does operational audits, performance audits and investigative audits on state agencies, cities, boards, councils and commissions. Many are aggressive and detailed,” the report read.
The Office of Management similarly has budget analysts and a state comptroller who monitor the department. The State Board of Health also has a finance committee, which oversees all of the department’s budget decisions.
None caught the $30 million missing from funds that stacked up over time.