Privatization in Practice: Case Studies of Contracting for TANF Case Management. Professional Auditors Role


Public agencies in most study sites hire private firms  or require contractors to do so  for some of their monitoring. In some sites the purview of these outside reviewers is restricted to financial audits. Palm Beach County gives professional auditors a larger role, retaining a large accounting firm to undertake case reviews and an administrative audit of ACS, the contractor. San Diego County employs an independent audit firm to verify employment case management performance data from all regions, including those where the county provides services.

Using professional auditors enables public agencies to access expertise and independence; however, there are some drawbacks to this approach. Private firms may be unfamiliar with the policies and procedures of a TANF program, which limits their ability to monitor service quality and policy compliance. Contractor staff in Palm Beach County expressed doubts about how well the auditors could perform case reviews, given their lack of experience in the field of welfare and workforce development. Monitors from the accounting firm followed pre-determined review protocols very closely, leaving little room for discussion of case workers rationale for actions in a specific case. For these reasons, professional auditors appear most qualified to conduct financial reviews.

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