Fighting fraud before it happens

Thursday - 5/14/2009, 11:51am EDT

By Jane Norris
FederalNewsRadio

With $787 billion stimulus dollars are flowing out from the Government to stimulate the economy the Obama administration is aware that fraud and abuse can happen with that amount of cash on the move, so federal employees are being trained to spot fraud before it happens.

Q: How do you prevent fraud before it happens?

A: The Justice Department Antitrust Division has set up training courses for auditors and investigators in all agencies that will help government managers detect the signs of fraud and abuse before it happens. They are telling purchasing managers to look for two or more proposals that are written in similar handwriting or come from the same mailing address. Check out last minute changes to price quotes that are crossed out or covered up with white-out. This may indicate that the company has learned in advance of a competitors price structure and is trying to game the system.

Q: Why are those things a concern?

A: It may indicate that there is collusion or a secret agreement to increase the likelihood that a one company will win the contract. They are looking for patterns: for instance the company who wins the bid uses the company who lost the bid as a sub contractor. Or competing companies that rotate as contract winners. Anything that points to discussion or price fixing that might be going on behind the scenes that helps nail down the contract.

Q: What will happen to the companies that are suspected of fraud and abuse with stimulus funds?

A: The Justice Department is going to go after them and pursue prosecution if they find any basis to the charges. If the Government can't prevent this, the public will be very unhappy about their precious tax dollars being wasted.

For more information, see the Justice Department resource page, Economic Recovery Antitrust Division

(Copyright 2009 by FederalNewsRadio.com. All Rights Reserved.)