The top official in charge of investigating fraud at the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) has been reassigned to another position nine months after the state’s legislative auditor found disarray within her department.
Carolyn Ham, who has been on leave from her inspector general position, became the subject of an internal investigation after the legislative auditor found high levels of fraud in the state’s child-care assistance program and distrust between Ham and her team of anti-fraud investigators.
DHS Commissioner Jodi Harpstead told a Minnesota House health committee this month that the internal investigation had been completed and that no disciplinary action would be taken against Ham.
Ham will be an administrative officer for a DHS division that provides services to seniors on Medicaid, according to an internal DHS announcement. Ham will retain her $132,800 salary.
DHS will soon begin the process of hiring a new inspector general, according to a statement from the agency.
House and Senate Republicans expressed frustration this month after hearing that Ham would not be disciplined.
“The decision to retain her … raises questions,” said Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake. “She did not do top-tier work as she was running the Office of Inspector General.”
Some have also suggested that the DHS fraud investigation unit be split apart from the main agency, on the argument that the existing arrangement basically has DHS investigating itself. It is one of several proposals for splitting apart the sprawling department, which has 7,300 workers and an $18.5 billion budget.
Ham released a statement this month saying that she has chosen not to return to the inspector general job “so that both the staff and I can have a fresh start.”
“As I said at the outset of this investigation, there was no wrongdoing on my part,” Ham said.
Glenn Howatt • 612-673-7192