State Audit Released on MHSA Funding
March 1, 2018
The California State Auditor released a report this week on the role of key state agencies in the implementation of the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). Looking at three counties (Alameda, Riverside, and San Diego), the report examined how they accounted for and spent the funding, as well as the effectiveness of the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) and the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) in overseeing the MHSA.
The audit found that DHCS has not provided effective direction to local mental health agencies on how to spend MHSA funds, which has impacted the ability of local mental health agencies to use MHSA funds. Additionally, the audit reports that DHCS inadequately oversees the MHSA funds received by local mental health agencies, such as not enforcing reporting deadline or establishing a guideline for reserves. The report notes that only one of the 59 mental health agencies submitted the FY 2015-16 annual report on time, and CSAC, along with the County Behavioral Health Directors Association (CBHDA), have been working to help resolve the reporting issues and guidance questions.
The audit also reports that while the MHSOAC is implementing processes to evaluate the effectiveness of MHSA-funded programs, there is still work needed on issues such as developing guidance on the Innovation program approval process.
Overall, the audit provides a fair look at the implementation of the MHSA and the issues that the state and counties must work together to resolve. The MHSA has provided much-needed funding for behavioral health services and counties are committed to implementing it and providing these services in an accountable and effective manner.