“#OIG initiates an audit of the Surface Water and Ocean Topography Mission.”
15:32 February 22, 2017
Feds Won’t ‘Speculate’ About How Many Taxpayer-Funded Scientists Fake Data
Daily Caller (skeptics bear with me here)
February 24, 2017
For better or worse, a day of reckoning could be fast approaching that could effect many government contractors and grantees. I am reminded of the Summer of 2006 while I was with USDOJ as we watched the awareness dawn on the Bush Administration that it had a major problem with its supply chain of goods and services to the nation’s warfighters. Back then, if you knew what to look for, the “tells” so to speak, you could predict based on prior history, how the grant fraud and procurement fraud enforcement (GFPFE) response might develop.
Since early 2016, we have been wondering if grant fraud and procurement fraud enforcement (GFPFE) would be experiencing a “robosigning event,” where you go to bed on Tuesday never hearing about the existence an enforcement issue and wake up on Wednesday to task forces, plaintiff’s attorneys and media coverage devoted to rooting out the perceived harm. In reality, in enforcement, overnight sensations really happen in three month increments. From the time of the dawn of mankind to August 2010, no one had heard the word or the concept of “robosigning.” By October, 2010, the country was embroiled in a robosigning scandal.
It is important to recognize that the scale of the concern regarding robosigning events does not have to be proportional to the actual harm. Risk analysis is also drastically affected by the reality that the identity of the media drivers has changed so we are in uncharted territory to an extent. You may not agree with it, you may not like it, but if you pretend it is not happening, you are blinding your ability to evaluate and mitigate risk for you (or your clients). I see this too often where practitioners let their personal political preferences cloud their vision and don’t react quickly enough to changing circumstances. You can allow yourself not to like what look to you as abrupt changes but just don’t pretend they don’t exist. What the New York Times thinks or ABC News thinks is now less relational to perceived risk than what Breitbart thinks or Daily Caller thinks because, even if you hate it, those media outlets are likely to be read by the new Administration. More importantly, career enforcers believe those media outlets are read by the new Administration so they are reading them. Our risk analysis has factored in these new dynamics since June 2016 and we have been raising the alarm about a scientific fraud enforcement initiative since well before that since the cornerstone of the foundation for such an effort was laid some time ago. Let’s look at this morning’s Daily Caller piece. Notice the posture of the piece is not focused on whether scientific fraud exists, it 1) assumes it exists, 2) it implies that there seems to be a lot of it and 3) there may be so much of it that we can’t even estimate it.
We have a number of areas of enforcement that are ripe for a “robosigning event.” Although it is off topic to GFPFE, you are likely to have robosigning events in areas like child sex trafficking (that we are involved with through formerfeds.org). This is a vastly understated problem that compliments immigration enforcement and it is likely that you will see invigorated enforcement methods to root out what has to be among the worst evils on the planet. Yesterday, Trump met with professionals involved in the fight against human trafficking and I expect to see a significant effort in this regard.
We are also likely to see robosigning events in GFPFE. Setting aside the lack of moral basis or causation that many will fail to see, the first is likely to be climate research. The initiation of an audit on temperature data by NASA OIG (referenced at top of page) is very significant. Since the wikileaks disclosure involving alleged malfeasance by climate scientists in 2009, there has been no stomach on the part of the media or enforcers to dig. That dynamic has changed. If you are unfamiliar with this issue, it is important you get up to speed now and look at it as enforcers are looking at it who now think they are likely to receive the overhead support to investigate.
Since June of last year when it became evident that we were going to have a change in administration, we have been advising our clients who are grantees and contractors to begin immediately stepping up their compliance procedures and internally investigate and properly handle vulnerabilities because we believe that a storm is approaching.
As I hope to blog about next week, don’t be lulled into thinking that OIG’s are moribund waiting for the installment of a permanent IG (that for most agencies could occur late this year or early next year). Enforcement agencies now are trying to get out in front of where they interpret the new Administration enforcement priorities will be and agents pride themselves at getting their sooner, faster, and with more finesse, prior to the arrival of the herd.