The independent accounting firm of Ernst & Young has discovered $10 billion of discrepancies in the finances of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in a recent audit.:

In a letter sent Monday, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), ask Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to tighten oversight of taxpayer dollars that flow in and out of the agency, including a $500 million difference between its internal accounting and the Treasury’s records, and an $866 million difference in divisional budget reports.

The list of discrepancies found in the annual audit conducted by Ernst & Young include: $1.8 billion in transactions that await close-out; $2.6 billion owed to its employer-based retiree drug plans; and $3.8 billion owed to Medicare from its coverage gap discount.

“It is unacceptable that HHS fails to maintain accurate financial records and fails to adhere to federal law designed to protect taxpayer dollars from mismanagement and waste,” the letter states.

In November, auditors for Ernst & Young recommended that HHS strengthen “manual and other internal controls to ensure that errors and irregularities are detected in a timely manner.”

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