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Friday, April 13, 2007

(***NOTE*** The CIWS discusses Canadian provincial conflicts of interest regarding WCB at )

Workers’ Compensation was a train wreck waiting to happen

Prosecutions for BWC need to occur

The Tribune Chronicle

What many Ohioans already knew — that for several years, the state Bureau of Workers’ Compensation was a train wreck waiting to happen — now is official. A formal investigation by the state auditor’s office put the agency’s problems into perspective.

State Auditor Mary Taylor last week released results of an audit of the bureau for 2005 and 2006. Her report merely formalizes a long list of concerns that have come to light since it was revealed that the bureau’s investments had lost $300 million.

Still, the report’s conclusions merit the attention of both Buckeye State citizens and their elected representatives in government. We’ll summarize three key findings of the auditors:

l Terrence Gasper, formerly the bureau’s chief financial officer, accepted cash and other gifts from some individuals and companies doing business with the agency. He already has pleaded guilty to doing so.

l Bureau investments did not receive proper supervision.

l The mechanism of setting rates for employers who must pay premiums to the bureau was, to say the least, faulty. Some bureau officials were permitted to alter the rates — apparently with no documentation.

Again, none of this is news. During the course of various investigations into the bureau’s shenanigans — and that’s an appropriate term — a mountain of dirty laundry has emerged.

What is important, as Taylor’s report reminds us, is that the bureau’s problems were both deep and widespread and resulted from combined incompetence and wrongdoing. It was operated in a manner that invited a catastrophe.

From the standpoint of correcting errors in how the bureau is operated and from that of finding and prosecuting those responsible for criminal activity, the agency will need to be a priority for Gov. Ted Strickland and legislators — for years to come. Ohioans should demand that corrections be made, criminals be prosecuted — and outside oversight be provided to ensure that the bureau does not sink back into chaos.

(***NOTE*** The CIWS discusses Canadian provincial conflicts of interest regarding WCB at )

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