Baton Rouge, La. - The Department of Health announced today significant improvements to its internal audit division aimed at strengthening the programs and processes that serve to protect and promote health throughout the state. Four key changes to the internal audit process have been implemented, including new risk assessment surveys, the designation of a single audit coordinator, the hiring of a new investigator and an audit "strike team" that will address urgent audit needs within the Department.

"We take very seriously the responsibilities we have to serve the citizens of Louisiana," said LDH Secretary Kathy Kliebert. "One of the first steps we took to improve audits within our Department was the hiring of Bill Root seven months ago. Since then, his team has provided critical process improvements. I am confident that these changes will help to deter and more quickly detect fraud and other concerns within the Department."

Louisiana Inspector General Stephen Street commented, "Working with state agencies to help improve processes and controls is part of OIG's core mission, and we are pleased to work with Secretary Kliebert and Bill Root to that end."

In May 2013, the Department announced the hiring of William (Bill) Root as the Department's Chief Compliance Officer to develop and implement a new internal audit function. The Department also hired two new auditors in July who will conduct the risk assessment surveys and serve as part of the "strike team."

"There are thousands of hard working employees who show up every day at LDH ready to serve the citizens of Louisiana," said William Root, Chief Compliance Officer. "The work that we do with internal audit strengthens the work of our employees and ensures that have a better opportunity to fight fraud, waste and abuse that may occur. We have an incredible new team of auditors and investigators that will be instrumental in implementing the internal audit changes."

The Department submitted changes to its audit processes as an Internal Audit Charter to the Louisiana Legislative Auditor and the Inspector General for review in order to ensure the changes met the standards and suggestions of those agencies tasked with the Department's external audits.

The key changes implemented within the Internal Audit Division include:

1. New risk assessment surveys to identify potential vulnerabilities within the Department so that audits may be conducted and corrective action plans may be implemented;

2. The designation of an audit coordinator who serves as the single point of contact for all external audit agencies, including the Louisiana Legislative Auditor, coordinates all results and responses, and assists in kick starting any process improvements that are found to be needed during the course of an audit as is part of the national procedure for internal audit;

3. The hiring of a new investigator who will serve as a critical member of the internal audit team; and

4. A "strike team" availability to assist Department leadership in quickly investigating and auditing any urgent issues that may arise.

The internal audit division also plans to contract with an external audit firm when the audit needs of the Department require additional resources.

Two internal risk assessments have already been conducted - one within the Medicaid Program Integrity Division and the second in the Department's Fiscal Office. Many of those identified vulnerabilities within the Fiscal Office have been addressed through process improvements and simplifications. Those changes include having checks sent to the Department go directly to bank-controlled lock boxes, removing LDH employees from the process of handling checks; training of employees on new policies for the receipt of checks and strict handling protocols; and the use of electronic funds transfers where available.

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's Twitter account and Facebook.