ST. PAUL (AP) - The Minnesota Department of Human Services has been forced to tighten its belt after incurring big unexpected legal costs.

The department is imposing limits on everything from filling vacant positions to out-of-state travel.

The clampdown comes after the department racked up more than $4 million in legal costs over its treatment of sex offenders and the alleged abuse of people with disabilities.

Commissioner Lucinda Jesson wrote in a recent memo to department employees that it's never east to cut back on spending, especially in an agency where the work is so critical.

The Department of Human Services is the largest agency in state government with over 6,600 employees and a biennial budget of over $28 million. It provides services to over 1 million Minnesotans.