A state audit released on Wednesday once again warned that “poor controls” by the Office of the State Attorney General had left at least $10 million uncollected, and another $8.3 million of settlements which may not have been collected.
The latest report repeats findings made in seven biennial audits covering from 2004 to 2021 – spanning the tenures of then-Attorneys General Richard Blumenthal and George Jepsen and current Attorney General William Tong.
State Auditors have repeatedly warned that the office does not have – or does not follow – procedures for reconciling the amounts collected from individual judgements or settlements with its master log.
State auditors said that they were also not able to verify “the accuracy and completeness” of the Attorney General’s balance of receivables from judgements and settlements.
“Poor controls over the management of receivables increases the risk that receipts are not fully collected,” the audit report concluded.
The report also warned that the ongoing issues meant that the information system used by the Office of the Attorney General lacked useful data to track those balances, and may be reporting inaccurate information about settlements and judgements to the Comptroller.
In a written statement released to CT Examiner, Cara Passaro, spokesperson for Attorney General William Tong, said that “Since learning of the audit findings, we have put additional procedures in place, as detailed in our responses within the audit report.”
Passaro wrote that “Where money is owed to our office through judgements or settlements, these procedures enable us to better track and collect efficiently and accurately.”
After the last audit report in 2020, the office claimed that its IT department had developed a system to track and report the money received to the business office. At the time, state auditors found that 14 of 15 cases they reviewed from 2018 and 2019 weren’t recorded correctly.
But in the latest audit, covering 2020 and 2021, the auditors reviewed 25 cases and said they still couldn’t determine whether funds were collected in 17 of the cases, totaling $8.34 million due to the state. Those settlements include $1.8 million from a 2019 multistate settlement with Johnson & Johnson over alleged deceptive marketing of hip implants.
Asked by CT Examiner whether Tong’s office had collected on those settlements, the office did not respond.
Auditors also found that the office did not reconcile more than $10 million of delinquent payments from 29 settlements and judgements. Of those, about $7.3 million were more than 10 years old and unlikely to be collected, auditors concluded.
In its response to the latest report, the Office of Attorney General acknowledged that its employees had not “consistently and uniformly” followed the procedures for reporting, and again claimed that the IT department had developed policies and procedures – and trained staff on them. And the office told auditors that it was with the state Office of Policy and Management to develop additional policies.