I received an update from my state senator about welfare fraud. I am against fraud taking place, but unfortunately there was no cost/benefit analysis included in the senator’s update.

There was a cost to the state increasing the number of investigators from nine to 18. There was a cost to the state for the attorney general’s office to prosecute cases of fraud. If any of the people prosecuted for welfare fraud were found guilty and sentenced to time in jail, then there was a cost to incarcerate those people. What were these costs?

On the income side, there was either the increase in money returned to the state from the people committing welfare fraud, or the reduction in benefits to those individuals that the state recovered. What did the state save/recover?

On the surface, it looks like the doubling of investigators led to an increase of 22 referrals to the attorney general’s office in 2011, 13 more in 2012, 21 more in 2013 and 15 more in 2014.

In 2010, six of the 10 cases referred were prosecuted by the attorney general’s office, or six cases for nine investigators. In 2011, we had 12 cases prosecuted for 18 investigators. These numbers gradually increased to 27 in 2014. Assuming a 100 percent prosecution success rate, we would have to be seeing that each prosecution at least covered the cost of the newly added investigators to have been cost effective.

Without a financial analysis, the numbers that were provided are basically meaningless and provide the illusion that the state is doing “something” about welfare fraud, and that somehow welfare fraud is a “serious” problem. At the same time, the state gave away $16 million in corporate fraud.

David Jenney

Vassalboro


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