RENO, Nev. (AP) — The head of the state department in Nevada responsible for placing severely mentally ill persons in homes with squalid conditions says he was shocked by the findings of a new legislative audit.

Department of Health and Human Services Director Richard Whitley tells the Reno Gazette-Journal his staff leadership was unaware that the two state agencies in charge of providing care for people with a severe mental illness have been allowing their clients to live in filthy homes at taxpayer expense.

Whitley says he's especially troubled because he thought the governor and state lawmakers had provided the necessary tools to fix similar problems brought to light two years ago in an investigative series by the Gazette-Journal.

He's vowing to discover what went wrong. He told the newspaper: "I have to own the failure in our system for addressing these issues."

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Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com