WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The U.S. Department of Justice announced Sept. 18 that the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (ADHSS) will pay a $2.49 million penalty after allegations of violating the federal False Claims Act while administering the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“This settlement reflects the Justice Department’s commitment to ensuring that taxpayer funds are spent appropriately so that the public can have confidence in the integrity of programs like SNAP,” said acting assistant attorney general Chad A. Readler of the DOJ's Civil Division.

According to allegations, ADHSS hired a consultant company, Julie Osnes Consulting LLC, in 2009 to help lower the state agency’s SNAP quality control error rate.

The DOJ alleged that Osnes Consulting’s recommendations created a system of bias within ADHSS’ quality control process. Because of this purported bias, ADHSS submitted inaccurate data to the federal government in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. This in turn led to a surplus in performance bonuses for ADHSS.

“While I am deeply troubled that these actions happened within a state agency entrusted with assisting vulnerable and needy residents, I am heartened that ADHSS has resolved its liability and cooperated with our investigation,” said acting U.S. attorney Joseph H. Harrington for the Eastern District of Washington. “Together with our partners in the Civil Division and the USDA, we will continue to investigate and hold accountable entities, including government entities, that misuse and wrongfully obtain SNAP funding.”

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