As DoD Spending Soared, Fraud Referrals Dipped
"The number of defense contracting fraud and corruption cases sent by government investigators to prosecutors dropped precipitously under the Bush administration, even as contracting by the Defense Department almost doubled."
That's the conclusion of a sharp review by Nick Schwellenbach of the Center For Public Integrity, the non-profit oversight group in D.C. Here's more:
"The FBI, which is also involved in such probes, sent 55 percent fewer government-wide contracting fraud and corruption cases to prosecutors for the same time periods reviewed. These cases cut across all agencies, but the Defense Department was responsible for more than 65 percent of federal contracting during the Bush administration. And FBI statistics requested by the Center focusing just on the Pentagon document a similar trend. In 2001, the Bureau referred 213 Defense Department procurement fraud cases to Justice Department prosecutors; by 2008, the total had fallen to 86.
"The data analyzed by the Center were obtained from the Justice Department by the Syracuse University-based Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a respected 20-year-old research center focusing on federal law enforcement staffing and spending. Federal officials disputed the TRAC data, but were unable to provide numbers of their own. Richard D. Beltz, director of investigative operations with the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, said he did not believe case referrals from his agency were down, but could not provide any data to support his claim. Ian McCaleb, a Justice Department spokesman, said the agency was 'unable to verify data provided by TRAC as it routinely differs from data and statistics reflected in' other Justice Department reports."
The story is more fuel for thought about whether the government is striking the right balance for oversight at a time when oversight is needed more than ever.
Government Inc. believes that the evidence is becoming clearer and clearer: The government is not even close to doing enough to meet its responsibility to spend taxpayer money wisely.
By Robert O'Harrow |
April 1, 2009; 1:51 PM ET
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