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State improves collection of federal funds

State auditors on Tuesday commended Maryland's Developmental Disabilities Administration for correcting years of recurring spending problems and said the agency had made "substantial progress" in collecting federal reimbursements more quickly.

The Office of Legislative Audits found in 2013 that the disabilities agency had failed to file timely requests on 11 percent of $789 million in federal reimbursements for providing services to about 24,000 disabled Marylanders. Because of the untimely process, the state lost out on $262,000 in interest on the late-arriving federal money.

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A recent review found the agency was late on 5 percent of reimbursement requests, costing the state $117,000 on lost interest income. One main reason for the late filings stems from late submissions from service providers, disability officials said.

"They've come a long way," said legislative auditor Thomas J. Barnickel III.

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The October 2013 audit had also found that the disabilities administration improperly purchased motor vehicles, did not bill local governments for services and was not properly monitoring contractors hired to oversee disability services. Those issues and several others were corrected late last year.

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