Recovery Board’s Executive Director Discusses Continuing Efforts to Prevent Fraud and Abuse in Recovery Program
The following post was written by Michael Wood, the Executive Director of the Recovery Board
For nearly three years, the Recovery Board has focused on developing a program that will allow us to prevent fraud in the $840 billion stimulus program.
FastAlert, a new IT tool, is a case in point. It is designed to quickly identify irregularities in Recovery contracts, grants, and loans. Obviously, if we can pinpoint problems early on, valuable taxpayer dollars will be saved.
The system, not accessible to the public, is now being tested in pilot programs with a few federal agencies that distribute Recovery funds and Inspectors General responsible for preventing and detecting fraud, waste and abuse in the stimulus program.
At the heart of the system is FederalAccountability.gov, a password-protected website that the Board developed for use by federal IGs and agencies. This portal gives them access to the Board’s Recovery Operations Center (ROC), a state-of-the-art facility staffed by analysts who use sophisticated software and databases to search for indicators of fraud and waste.
Once logged into FederalAccountability.gov, government users can request information on Recovery recipients or those seeking funds. Information contained in the request is run through the ROC databases. If there are problems, such as criminal records, bankruptcies or past contract problems with the government, ROC analysts forward an alert immediately to the requesting agency or IG.
The Board is not telling agencies what to do. When we issue an alert, we are throwing up a caution flag—take care, we are saying, before handing out that contract. Bottom line: FastAlert can be used throughout the lifecycle of an award and will reduce fraud and improper payments, saving taxpayers money.
It’s our hope that, eventually, all agencies and IGs involved in federal spending programs will take advantage of our system. The best way to protect taxpayer dollars is to prevent them from ever being wasted or stolen. FastAlert is a big step toward reaching that goal.