Denver Auditor: Gift-card program for needy at risk for 'fraud and abuse'

6:39 PM, Oct 17, 2013   |    comments
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DENVER - Denver's auditor announced it plans to sue the city's Human Services Department for not being transparent enough regarding gift cards given to needy families.

The Denver Human Services Department issues gift cards to needy families so they can buy food and clothing at places like Walmart and King Soopers. In 2012, $166,000 worth of taxpayer-funded cards were issued to Denver families.

9Wants to Know attended Thursday morning's audit committee meeting in which several members blasted DHS for not releasing information on who exactly received the gift cards and what was purchased.

"Our access was so limited that our audit team was prevented from getting the necessary information to determine if gift cards bought by the city were even distributed to the people they were intended for," auditor Dennis Gallagher said. "This is really outrageous but of more serious concern is what this restriction means to evaluating the core mission of the department."

A spokesperson for DHS told 9Wants to Know it cannot disclose who received the cards because of confidentiality laws.

"We want to make sure all of our needy families are entitled to the confidentiality that they have and that is part of federal law," Revekka Balancier said.

Gallagher announced plans to sue DHS to get access to the information so his office can determine if the gift cards are being used as intended.

Have a comment or tip for investigative reporter Jeremy Jojola? Call him at 303-871-1425 or e-mail him
jeremy.jojola@9news.com

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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