Thursday News Roundup: Report Critical Of NM Mental Health Audit Response

Dec 12, 2013

Report Critical Of NM Mental Health Audit Response - Associated Press and The Santa Fe New Mexican

A legislative report is critical of New Mexico's handling of a shakeup of mental health services in which Medicaid to numerous providers were frozen as a result of an audit that reportedly found possible overbillings and fraud.

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, the Legislative Finance Committee report released Wednesday says the Human Service Department's transition to new providers caused disruption and difficulties for patients.

The report also says affected providers weren't told of specific allegations or given a chance to rebut them before funding was cut off.

Human Services Secretary Sidonie Squier said her department will provide a formal response to the report in the near future.

Citing law enforcement considerations, two judges recently refused in separate cases to order release of the audit.

US Bureau Of Indian Education Names Director - Associated Press

The acting director of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Education now is the agency's permanent director.

Charles "Monty" Roessel comes from a family of educators who helped establish the first tribal college on the Navajo Nation. He has been the interim BIE director since February 2012.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced Roessel as director during a visit Wednesday to Laguna Pueblo. She says Roessel has proven to be an effective steward for Indian education programs.

Roessel previously oversaw 66 BIE-funded schools on the Navajo Nation, which stretches into New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. He also worked as superintendent for the Rough Rock Community School near Chinle, Ariz., and as a journalist.

Roessel says he's looking forward to providing quality education to Indian children, while respecting tribal cultures, languages and traditions.

Government Website To Offer Purchasing Contacts - Associated Press

A new law in New Mexico will allow businesses to go to a state website soon to find who to contact for submitting bids for government purchasing contracts.

The law was enacted earlier this year and it requires the chief procurement officers for state and local governments to be identified on the website of the State Purchasing Division.

General Services Secretary Ed Burckle says having the information available at a central location will help vendors who want to do business with the state or local governments.

The same law also will require governmental procurement officers to be certified by the state starting next year. That is intended to ensure that they are familiar with requirements for contracting with businesses for goods and services.

Western Governors Show Wildlife Maps - Associated Press

Governors in 16 states are unveiling a high-tech wildlife habitat mapping project they hope will encourage economic development across the West while protecting the region's environmental treasures from Puget Sound to the Rocky Mountains.

Leaders of the Western Governors' Association tell The Associated Press they want to make it easier to chart paths across large landscapes where developers can expect the least regulatory resistance as they draft plans to build highways, dig mines or erect power lines.

Five years in the making, the database to be announced Thursday at the WGA's annual winter meeting in Las Vegas is called the Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool, or CHAT.

It will connect 16 western states with a first-of-its-kind online system of GIS maps displaying wildlife habitat, wetlands and other valuable natural resources.