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editorial

Confidence in Mass. welfare system depends on preventing abuse

The recent resignation of former welfare commissioner Daniel Curley was the first in a series of actions needed to restore credibility at the state Department of Transitional Assistance. The agency, charged with ensuring the basic needs for about 500,000 of the state’s poorest households, has failed at its most basic administrative tasks — establishing eligibility and keeping track of its clients.

Evidence of this failure came in waves. In mid-January, the state auditor received evidence of $1.3 million in fraudulently obtained benefits during a three-month period. The state inspector general’s report came next, citing potential eligibility errors — including undisclosed assets and job income — in a whopping 33 percent of the department’s portfolio. The sloppy oversight could be costing taxpayers $25 million annually, according to the report.

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