State audit finds cash assistance contract processed by DHS did not follow normal procedures

ATLANTA — Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and economic upheaval, Gov. Brian Kemp provided cash assistance to Georgians on Medicaid, PeachCare for Kids, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families in 2022.

The cash assistance was provided to program enrollees in $350 one-time assistance payments, using more than $1 billion.

Now, a state audit report says the Georgia Department of Human Services process for how that program roll out was enacted, focused on how the payment cards provided were delivered and what company did so, did not follow normal state procedures.

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“The Cash Assistance program provided one-time cash assistance of up to $350 for active enrollees of the Medicaid, PeachCare for Kids, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and/or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families government benefit programs in response to the negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency,” according to the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts.

Instead, the report said what would normally have been a minimum of four months to possibly as long as a year, based on complexity, for a bidding process to remain competitive was completed in just seven days.

The company that received the contract was Rellevate, a fintech company. In a document published by the company, it said Georgia DHS contracted them to “implement the program on a tight timeline to disburse funds efficiently to the “millions of Georgians that needed it.”


“The deviation from the standard procurement process resulted in a much faster contract award. A request for proposal (RFP) following state competitive bidding requirements typically takes four to six months, and up to 12 months for complex RFPs. The solicitation document for this program opened on August 25 and the supplier was selected on September 1,” the report says.

State statute requires that solicitations that are higher than a state entity’s purchasing authority are approved by the Department of Administrative Services and posted to the Georgia Procurement registry.

With the shorter timeline for the contract, which chose Rellevate to perform the disbursement, the audit states that the Georgia DHS and Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget did not follow state requirements for procurement.

“While the timeline allowed quicker delivery of funds to beneficiaries, the number of suppliers was potentially limited because the RFP was not posted to the Georgia Procurement Registry. This prevented the state from receiving the benefits of an open, competitive solicitation,” according to the GDOAA report.

Channel 2 Action News has reached out to the governor’s office for more information about the selection process, who directed Channel 2 to the Department of Human Services.

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