Disabilities officials answer for problems raised in state audit

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Officials with the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities say they're taking steps to address problems revealed in a state audit.

A legislative subcommittee heard from auditors and department staff members during a hearing on Wednesday.

The most serious finding in the comptroller office's report involved the way two deaths were handled. The audit said there were substantiated allegations of wrongdoing involving employees of a service provider. The then-deputy commissioner overturned the findings, and the contract provider was never held accountable.

Department Commissioner Debbie Payne told the panel that a policy has since been instituted that prohibits one person from overturning a finding and that an investigation review committee will make the final decision.

The department serves more than 8,000 of the state's most vulnerable citizens, many of whom live in state institutions or community settings.

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