What is the Role of the Government Accounting Office in Reporting Fraud?
GAO refers to the Government Accounting Office. It is the singular agency that has been tasked with the investigation of any organization, agency or group that spends federal money, and as such it is tasked with investigations after instances of individuals reporting fraud, and of acting upon it if confirmed. The agency was established in 1921 as a simple operation ensuring that all government spending was being processed and accounted for properly, but in the 1950s it began auditing and evaluating how government programs were operating, and in its present form it not only publishes reports of its findings but also testifies before congressional committees about what it has found.
There are so many instances of individuals reporting fraud that the Government Accounting Office is constantly busy. It has been reported that the agency receives dozens of request each week, with some generated by Congress, some required by law, and some in response to individual reports. When it comes to individuals reporting fraud, waste, abuse or mismanagement of federal funds, the GAO has a specific framework set up under the auspices of an internal organization known as FraudNet. FraudNet reviews the allegations and then refers them to the appropriate federal, state or local law enforcement agency, or to the Offices of Inspector General for appropriate handling.
Additionally, the GAO operates a free hotline that anybody within the United States is encouraged to use when they are aware of fraud or abuse that cheats the American taxpayers. These calls are referred to inspectors and investigated. Since the toll-free hotline was introduced there have been over 14,000 calls investigated, including reports of work-hour abuse; improper receipt of Social Security disability checks, welfare, disability or veterans’ benefits and more; fraud perpetrated by government contractors; tax cheating and bribery; conflicts of interest; and more. Many of these reports have resulted in legal action, and some have resulted in those who reported the fraud being rewarded under the U.S. whistleblower laws.
If you are aware of this type of abuse going on and are interested in reporting fraud, the best way to protect yourself and your own interests is to do so with the assistance of an experienced attorney. Contact Bochetto & Lentz at our Philadelphia law offices today to learn about the requirements of reporting fraud and the rewards to which you may be entitled.