GAO shines a light on a very dark place

Monday - 7/19/2010, 10:40am EDT

Gregory Kutz, managing director, Forensic Audits and Special Investigations, GAO

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By Vyomika Jairam
Federal News Radio

You expect the Government Accounting Office to deal with abuse in government, but not often abuse against children.

Yet that is what Gregory Kutz, managing director of the Forensic Audits and Special Investigations at GAO, has had to tackle.

He is a Service to America Medals finalist in the Justice and Law Enforcement category, and part of our Sammies Tracker series.

His work at GAO prompted congressional and federal action to protect vulnerable children from neglect and physical abuse by their teachers and caregivers.

Kutz and his team carried out two separate investigations in 2007 and 2008 into abuse at homes for troubled youths and schools for disabled and autistic children.

"For both of these investigations we found significant torture and abuse," Kutz said. "What I described at the congressional hearings, we had three separate hearings on this, as human rights violations."

His team found children as young as four years old being abused in these treatment facilities.

"It's difficult. I am a father, and a lot of the people on the team have children, and just to speak to the parents, that in some cases sent their children to death at these facilities, these boot camps and wilderness programs, is really a difficult thing," Kutz said. "I can tell you the truth that I shed a few tears many times."

Kutz's team includes investigators, auditors and analysts, who spent years looking into possible abuse, and even undercover testing of deceptive practices that residential programs had where they targeted vulnerable parents.

He said it was an honor for him, the GAO, and his team to be recognized for their efforts.