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Commissioner Harpstead delivers 90-day report to legislators

12/2/2019 1:20:14 PM

Today, Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead spoke before the Legislature about her first 90 days overseeing the agency and laid out her vision for the future of the department. She outlined the specific actions the department will take to help correct and prevent the process issues that have arisen over the last year.

Following her report to legislators, Harpstead issued the following statement:

“Nearly all of the payment issues we are addressing now did not happen in 2019 – they went viral in 2019. We are implementing stopgap measures to correct these issues and establishing stronger processes going forward. 

“We have put into place immediate measures to ensure that our payment process is strengthened, requiring three points of sign-off before any money is moved. In addition, I have tasked our department’s continuous improvement team with identifying soft processes that can be strengthened — and set them to work building plans for those new processes. 

“These payment issues represent less than 1% of our budget; and we are going after the last 1%, because every dime matters. In spite of the attention these issues have received, this department is in not in chaos as has been suggested. 

“I would ask Minnesotans to look at the department’s overall results, read the stories of the lives supported with their tax dollars through DHS’s work, and make a fair judgment of the total picture our work.

“As new DHS internal control measures go into effect and new leaders come on board, I intend to spend more of my time and energy on what I came to DHS to do — better health, fuller lives and lower cost for all Minnesotans and moving the needle on racial equity.”

The commissioner also announced the creation of the Commissioner’s Advisory Panel, which will be co-chaired by former Medtronic CEO and Chairman Bill George and include Sen. Jim Abeler, Sen. Michelle Benson, Rep. Tina Liebling and Rep. Rena Moran. This council will review progress and advise the commissioner on restoring the trustworthiness of the department on issues, including process controls, organizational structure, management team development and department culture. 

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