In a statement released Wednesday, State Auditor Mike Foley said Nebraska has been given 30 days to repay nearly $22 million to the federal government because of the state's troubled effort to privatize child welfare services.
Foley says if the payment is not made within those 30 days, the state could face interest fees of more than 10 percent.
The auditor's office received two letters from the federal government addressing the office's previous audits of the child welfare reform effort.
Each year, an audit report must be filed covering most federal funds given to the state. Federal offices may then review the audits and issue determination letters, which may include a demand for repayment.
The $22 million payment would cover disallowed expenditures from 2011 and 2012. Among the reasons for the request for repayment were instances where not all necessary paperwork was on file, including fingerprint background checks; maintenance charges that exceeded what was set by federal statute; and a need for more complete documentation.
An audit for 2013 is currently being finished, which Foley says could lead to other questionable expenditures.
DHHS CEO Kerry Winterer says the agency has resolved documentation issues and doesn't expect another disallowance.
Winterer says the agency has been working with federal officials over the past 12 to 18 months to resolve reporting issues and believes the amount owed could be "considerably less" with information from the agency. "We will decide in the near future our course of action," Winterer stated.