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Hidden dangers of fraud, waste, abuse

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- As the installation Inspector General, we take fraud, waste and abuse about as serious as we possibly can. In fact, this is one of the primary missions of an installation IG and we have a huge responsibility to ensure base personnel understand this policy. Let me begin by reminding everyone of the Air Force policy on FWA. The FWA Policy as defined in AFI 90-301, states, "The Air Force policy on FWA is to use all available means to prevent, detect, and correct instances of FWA; to appropriately discipline perpetrators involved in FWA activities; and to recoup, if possible, losses of cash property, and services resulting from FWA. The primary elements of FWA prevention and detection program exist within the Air Force in the audit, inspection, investigation, legal and security areas." Armed with this critical piece of the puzzle, let's now review some recent action with regards to FWA. 

It seems like you can't pick-up the paper any more without reading about some Pentagon or Air Force audit which found a company or individual guilty of fraud against the U.S. Government. A couple of examples will hopefully provide a better picture of what we are facing. In one particular case, a contractor was overcharging one of our sister services for providing meals to workers and service personnel in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The audit went on to say the Service "paid approximately $4.1 million for meals and services which were correctly calculated to only $1.7 million, for a difference of more than $2 million. The contractor was sighted for poor oversight of subcontractors and passing on inflated prices to the U.S. military customer." In yet another case, an article in the Washington Post stated "an Army contracting officer has pleaded guilty to involvement in a $9 million procurement scandal in which his wife was accused of carrying shopping bags full of cash to banks in the Middle East. Investigators say it is the largest bribery case out of the war in Iraq." 

Okay, now you're probably asking yourself what this has to do with you, here at Eglin? Well, fraud comes in all shapes and amounts. Fraud can be as simple as filing a false travel claim for a TDY to a more complex issue of tracking a respective contractor in the performance of a particular contract. AFI 90-301 states: "the success of the FWA program lies with each individual within the Air Force. Support by both military and civilian members is crucial in preventing and eliminating FWA. Any individual aware of FWA or lack of controls that could permit resources to be wasted or diverted must report the situation through appropriate channels." In this case the appropriate channels would include your commander, IG, OSI or the Air Force Audit Agency. 

When we get a report or complaint of fraud we are obligated to investigate it. Now we may use the OSI or our professionals in the contracting business, but the end result is to examine the compliant closely and render a decision as to substantiate or not substantiate an allegation. If the investigation reveals an allegation to be substantiated, then we must ensure corrective actions are taken to prevent this from continuing. If we suspect criminal activity, we would refer these allegations to either the OSI or Security Forces for action. 

In the end, we all play a very important role in preventing FWA. Without your help in reporting this activity we would be hard pressed to discover every possible case. Together as one professional team, we can encourage the use of our local FWA hotline at 882-0092 for reporting suspected FWA in Department of Defense operations without fear of reprisal. If you have any questions on the FWA policy, please don't hesitate to call our Installation IG office at 882-5966.

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