Reimbursement of Social Services Costs (2013MS-3)

Issued Date
December 13, 2013

[read complete report - pdf]

We also released 7 letter reports to the following Counties: Franklin [pdf], Genesee [pdf], Greene [pdf], Montgomery [pdf], Ontario [pdf], Sullivan [pdf], Tioga [pdf].

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to determine if counties were maximizing the reimbursement of costs related to the administration of social services programs for the period January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2012.


The Department of Social Services (DSS) incurs both direct and indirect program costs in the administration of social services programs and a portion of these costs are reimbursable by the Federal and State governments through the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA). Federal and State regulations permit the reimbursement of interdepartmental service costs (costs incurred by other county departments for the benefit of the DSS) that are directly billed to the DSS. In addition, counties are reimbursed for the indirect costs they incur delivering services to, or for, the DSS at rates up to 50 percent from the Federal government and 25 percent from the State. The Indirect Cost Allocation Plan is used as the foundation for claims submitted by counties to OTDA for reimbursement of the social services costs.

Key Findings

  • Counties have not maximized their reimbursement of expenditures related to the administration of social services programs. Specifically, the seven counties we audited failed to seek reimbursement for more than $1.4 million in eligible costs, potentially losing almost $1 million in additional revenue. This revenue was lost because the counties did not have formally established and consistent billing processes which resulted in billing errors (under-billings and over-billings) or a failure to bill at all.
  • We identified additional opportunities for counties to seek reimbursement of costs incurred by District Attorney’s offices.

Key Recommendations

  • Periodically monitor claims submitted against the Plan to ensure the county’s reimbursement is maximized and submit supplemental claims when applicable. Standardize the billing process from the various departments to the DSS in an effort to accurately capture and bill direct expenditures related to social services.
  • Maintain a record of staff time spent on prosecution activities related to those social services programs for which costs are federally reimbursed. Calculate the costs of these services and apply for Federal reimbursement.