The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report on Department of Energy (DOE) contracting, entitled “Improvements Needed to Ensure DOE Assesses Its Full Range of Contracting Fraud Risks.”
The thrust of the report is that DOE should do more to prevent and detect fraud, particularly in less-examined areas such as bid-rigging, misrepresentation of eligibility, kickbacks and gratuities, and conflicts of interest.
DOE relies on contractors to carry out its missions at laboratories and other facilities, spending approximately 80 percent of its $41 billion in total obligations on contracts. In March 2017, GAO reviewed DOE’s approach to managing its risk of fraud and found DOE did not use leading practices, resulting in missed opportunities to mitigate the likelihood and impact of fraud.
In its most recent report, GAO examined DOE’s processes for managing contracting fraud risks and concluded that DOE has not assessed the full range of fraud risks it faces.
Despite some improvements toward combating fraud in response to GAO’s March 2017 recommendations, GAO noted that the agency’s methods for gathering information capture only top fraud risks and fail to obtain information on fraud risks for non-management and operating (M&O) contractors.
GAO reviewed nine categories of contracting fraud schemes that occurred at DOE sites, and found that DOE’s risk profiles for FY 2018 and 2019 captured five of these nine fraud schemes (billing schemes, payroll schemes, product quality, theft, contract progress schemes), but failed to capture four others: bid-rigging, misrepresentation of eligibility, kickbacks and gratuities, and conflicts of interest. The report urges DOE to give these other areas greater focus in its fraud risk planning.