An audit of the state Department of Public Welfare has found the consolidation of payroll services for home care workers was botched, leading to pay delays for at least 4,000 workers.
State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale says workers were the collateral damage when a contract went to a single payroll provider that was not ready for prime time.
"You gotta have better oversight of the program," he said. "That means there’s got to be real dates, there’s gotta be real timelines, real items to be met."
The Boston-based Public Partnerships Limited received a multimillion dollar contract in 2012 from the state to take over financial management for home care workers that previously were serviced by more than 30 organizations throughout Pennsylvania.
The audit found DPW mismanaged the various payroll organizations severely, but instead of correcting compliance problems, the agency chose to consolidate all the services under a single firm.
DPW Secretary Bev Mackereth says she stands by the agency, which executed the contract before she became secretary, but says she wished there had been more communication with workers.
She says things are running smoothly now for workers that have completed necessary paperwork with the new provider, but DePasquale says the paperwork is far from straightforward.
Payroll for some workers was fouled up for several weeks.
They did receive back-pay, but DePasquale says their lives were interrupted, as was the care of some of their clients.
He says the state this year will spend seven million dollars more because clients switched to costlier forms of home care.