DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa human services Director Kevin Concannon says he believes greater financial oversight is needed at the Maine agency he used to run following an audit that found millions of misspent dollars.

“There’s no question that there has to be stronger and tighter controls,” Concannon told the Des Moines Register on Friday.

A report this month by Maine Auditor Gail Chase suggests the Maine Department of Human Services misspent or failed to properly document about $32 million during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2002.

The amount is almost double the $18.9 million Chase said was unaccounted for in an earlier review.

The apparent errors in how federal welfare money was allocated and spent prompted the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to announce an investigation in May.

At the time, Concannon expressed complete faith in the agency’s handling of the money.

“I have absolutely no concerns,” he said. “This money comes from a very busy unit of just five people who are as honest as the day is long.”

No one has alleged that the money was stolen, and thus far federal officials have not requested that any money be returned.

Under direction from Gov. John Baldacci, the state has hired the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to track how the money was spent. That report is expected within the next three weeks.

Chase said her office had identified accounting problems for years within DHS, the state’s largest agency.

After talking with Maine finance officials, Concannon said his understanding is that costs reimbursed by the federal government were misallocated among programs.

He insisted the accounting problems within the Maine have no implications for Iowa’s human services department.

Iowa has been “much more conservative” in how it has spent federal money, he said.

AP-ES-07-13-03 1437EDT

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