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Commissioner's office in Laporte

Pickett Comments on Findings of Waste, Abuse in State’s LIHEAP Program

State Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna), who has helped lead efforts to revamp and reform the state’s welfare system, offered the following comment in response to Auditor General Jack Wagner’s report of rampant abuse and waste within the state’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP):


“The auditor general’s previous audit of the LIHEAP program a couple of years ago signaled a need for reforms within the Department of Public Welfare, and that’s why my colleagues and I have been persistent in our efforts to reform the system to weed out waste, fraud and abuse. This week’s report, which uncovered even more fraud and abuse within this specific program, found that wide open cracks remained at DPW during the latter years of the Rendell administration, and that taxpayer money was being misused at astonishing levels, even after several people were convicted of cheating the system.


“The recently enacted state budget included many welfare reforms, including a cross-referencing database that will be used to determine eligibility, and I believe these new safeguards will make a dramatic difference in reducing cases of fraud and abuse. In addition, we asked Welfare Secretary Gary Alexander to find $400 million more in cost savings. Based on this audit, achieving that savings should not be a difficult task.


“There will always be unscrupulous individuals who will try to cheat the system, but the level of fraud and abuse uncovered in this report is unfathomable. I find it appalling, not only that taxpayer money was wasted in fraudulent claims, but that there are people who are in desperate need of energy assistance and may have been turned away due to lack of funds. I am hopeful that in addition to our new welfare reform measures, new leadership at DPW will turn the ship around and give a greater level of confidence to the taxpayers footing the bill.”


State Representative Tina Pickett

110th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact: Jennifer Keaton                

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