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Effectiveness against addiction: Maximize tax dollars' impact

| Thursday, July 27, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale

As Pennsylvania's opioid-addiction crisis grows and more taxpayer dollars are spent fighting it, the more important it becomes to spend those dollars wisely. A new report from state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale valuably highlights the need to better evaluate the effectiveness of publicly funded anti-addiction programs managed by the departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs, Corrections and Human Services.

“(W)e must plan, direct and coordinate our efforts to maximize the state's resources to help people,” Mr. DePasquale says. To their credit, officials at all three agencies agree with his report's findings and are acting on its recommendations.

Among recommended steps are making treatment-center inspection information on the Drug and Alcohol Programs website easier to find and interpret, expanding effectiveness monitoring beyond just recidivism for all seven Corrections treatment programs — only one does so now — and ensuring accuracy of data that Human Services uses to monitor its network of Centers of Excellence, which coordinate addiction treatment services.

The state's role in fighting addiction's deadly scourge through these agencies and programs is vital, but they're just part of a larger effort that must involve the federal government, counties, municipalities, police, medical, civic and faith-based organizations, families and individuals. Making sure that Pennsylvanians' tax dollars are spent as effectively as possible, rather than throwing money at the problem, is key for that effort's success.

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