The Arkansas Department of Health has requested that state and federal law enforcement officials investigate questionable fund transfers in its AIDS division's travel expenses that could total $44,000, announced department attorney Rick Hogan. Officials believe the problems emanate from either poorly documented expenses or stolen or misspent money. An e-mail from the Department of Health to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said authorities are examining a travel account concerning the department and Fort Smith Fights AIDS, a nonprofit organization. The department has also begun an independent audit of contracts within the AIDS division. After questions were raised, the Department of Health reassigned two of its top AIDS division employees to other positions. Officials would not say why the reassignments were made.
The investigations come as budgeting constraints forced the department to lay off nurses and nurse's aides at local health units and eliminate vacant positions. At the same time federal funding shortfalls for the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program have led to a waiting list. (AP)