(CITY OF MEMPHIS RELEASE) - A report from the City Auditor this month found opportunities to strengthen the internal controls of the following an inquiry into invoices submitted as part of the Rapid Assessment Decision and Redirection (RADAR) pilot program.
Auditor Debbie Banks found no evidence of fraud.
The RADAR pilot program, part of MFD’s innovative approach to reduce costly non-emergency EMS calls, called for a MFD paramedic and a physician from a contracted healthcare provider to respond to non-emergency incidents in an SUV, not an ambulance. For the pilot period, the physician services were provided at no cost to the City.
However, four invoices totaling $100,000 ($25,000 each) were remitted for the physicians’ services. Two of the invoices were paid; two others were able to have their payments stopped when the discrepancy was discovered.
Fire Director Gina Sweat discovered the activity, sought to stop the payments, and suspended the RADAR program pending the outcome of the Internal Auditor’s inquiry. The Auditor recommended that MFD establish new policies and increase its monitoring efforts.
The employee who submitted the invoices resigned on March 27 to seek other employment. Director Sweat plans to hold the manager who failed to provide proper oversight accountable for this incident.
In addition, Director Sweat plans to:
● Work with the City Attorney to recover the $50,000 paid to the healthcare provider;
● Implement a transaction listing report to be run monthly for each service center of the division, requiring review by deputy chiefs to look for questionable or irregular transactions
● Implement new policies and procedures prior to RADAR’s re-launch;
● Issue clear directives on payments to the third-party billing vendor MFD uses;
● Review purchasing procedures and provide additional training for staff members whose duties include purchasing.
“This is unacceptable. Part of being ‘brilliant at the basics’ of running City government is admitting our mistakes, fixing what happened, and implementing new policies to make sure it never happens again,” Mayor Jim Strickland said. “I’m confident that MFD and Director Sweat have done just that in this case.”
Said Director Sweat: “Innovative initiatives such as RADAR are important for providing the right response to the citizens of Memphis. However, it is critical that they be conducted appropriately. We made a mistake, we learned from it and we are moving forward.”