The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is publicly releasing for the first time the final version of a white paper created by the National Procurement Fraud Task Force Legislation Committee recommending ways to reduce procurement fraud.
The June 9, 2008, white paper titled "Procurement Fraud: Legislative and Regulatory Reform Proposals," consists of recommendations that would "significantly aid the Federal Government in preventing, detecting and prosecuting procurement fraud," according to its authors. The Legislation Committee co-chairs are Brian Miller, Inspector General for the General Services Administration, and Richard Skinner, Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security. The draft white paper was originally dated July 9, 2007, but it went through an intense year-long vetting process.
"In an era of significantly increased federal procurement spending and dwindling numbers of qualified acquisition personnel, we believe the ideas in the white paper merit strong support," state the co-chairs' in the letter to the Department of Justice, accompanying the white paper.
- Improving Ethics and Internal Controls Among Contractors – The proposal would prevent a contract award unless a contractor has an internal compliance program as well as measures of corrective actions. On December 12, 2008, regulatory changes went into effect related to this proposal (73 Fed. Reg. 67064-67093, "Federal Acquisition Regulation; FAR Case 2007-006, Contractor Business Ethics Compliance Program and Disclosure Requirements").
- Improvements in the Prosecution and Adjudication of Procurement Fraud Defendants – These proposals include subpoena authority to compel interviews and receive electronic evidence, defining "economic loss" in Federal Sentencing Guidelines, detailing officials from Inspectors General to the Justice Department to assist in fraud prosecutions, and reforms to the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act. Some of the reforms were passed in the "Inspector General Reform Act of 2008," Pub. Law 110-409, §§ 9 and 10.
- Improvements in the Government's Ability to Prevent and Detect Procurement Fraud – These proposals include contractor notification to the government of "significant overpayments" (which was also part of the above-mentioned regulation that went into effect in December 2008), extending conflict of interest laws to contractors, extending GSA audit rights, establishing a "National Procurement Fraud Database" (a similar database, which POGO had promoted since 2002, was passed in the "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009," Pub. Law 110-417, § 872), and collection of better data for individuals who are suspended or debarred from federal contracting.
POGO applauds the Legislation Committee's work. "We hope that Congress and the next administration gives contracting and enforcement officials the tools they need to go after procurement fraud," said POGO's General Counsel Scott Amey. "We need to do more to protect taxpayers against fraud, and now we have the instructions necessary to complete the job."
The National Procurement Fraud Task Force was created in 2006 to promote the prevention, early detection, and prosecution of procurement fraud. It is chaired by the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, and includes the FBI, federal Inspectors General, defense investigative agencies, federal prosecutors, and officials from the Criminal, Civil, Antitrust, and Tax Divisions of the Department of Justice.