As a candidate for governor, state General Treasurer Gina Raimondo has been touting her experience in the venture capital business as an asset when it comes to running the treasurer’s office, and possibly the rest of state government.
On her campaign website, under the headline "Making Government Work," she says she implemented a strategy to streamline management in her office.
As evidence, she claims that under her tenure, the treasurer’s office cleared a 900-claim backlog in the state Crime Victim Compensation Program that had been building up for years. She makes a similar claim on the treasurer’s website.
We decided to check her claim on those claims.
The Crime Victim Compensation Program pays grants to Rhode Island crime victims or their family members. Awards can be used to help pay for expenses such as health insurance deductibles, medical care, lost wages, mental health therapy, crime scene cleanup or funeral costs. Individual victims often file more than one claim, but the maximum amount any one person can receive is $25,000.
Most of the program’s money comes from fines and assessments levied in the state courts, augmented by federal funds.
When we asked Raimondo’s office for backup, her staff provided a breakdown of the unresolved claim backlog that they said they found after sorting through the compensation program’s files when she took office in 2011.
It comprised 912 claims by 415 people. The names of the individuals and the doctors or health care providers who were paid were redacted from the documents we received.
Treasurer’s office spokeswoman Joy Fox said fund staffers began going through the paperwork in the files around the middle of 2011, finishing around November. During that time they found instances in which claims had been filed but not decided, and others in which claims had been approved but not paid.
The accounting listed the date that each backlogged claim was filed, how much was sought, when it was approved or denied, how much was awarded if it had been approved, when the check was issued and the check number. The earliest claim went back to 2007.
After the list was compiled, Fox said the effort to resolve them began in January 2012. According to the payment accounting from Raimondo’s office, by June of 2012 about 95 percent of the claims had resolved. The remainder, 47 claims, were finished by December 2012. Since then, the average wait time for a new claim to be resolved is 28.9 days, the treasurer’s office said in its 2013 annual report on the program to the General Assembly.
Of the 912 claims, 391 were approved for some kind of award, about 43 percent. The total amount paid out on those came to $681,890.67.
We wanted to find independent verification of that figure.
So we went to the treasurer’s office online "transparency portal," which lists the checks issued by the state in given fiscal years. We looked for the 391 checks on the backlog list and found 310 matches -- enough to give us confidence in Raimondo’s figure.
Fox said the rest don’t show individually on the transparency portal because the state consolidates multiple payments to single health care service providers into a single combined number for each payee.
Gina Raimondo said her office was able to resolve 900 pending claims from the state’s Crime Victim Compensation Program since she became general treasurer in 2011.
Her staff provided an accounting that outlined the effort. It showed 912 claims resolved, 12 more than she said. We independently verified enough of the claims to rule her statement True.