Government Investigative Agencies:
There are many federal investigative agencies of various types and missions that investigate false claims cases. The agencies established to investigate cases involving procurement and program fraud are the various Inspectors General (IG) organizations. The IG Act was enacted by Congress in 1978 to establish an independent OIG (Office of the Inspector General) for each governmental agency to detect, investigate and prevent fraud and abuse within that agency’s programs and operations. The IG is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. As an example, the OIG for HHS investigates fraud within that agency’s Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security programs. The OIG for DoD investigates fraud by that agency’s contractors involving major weapon systems. Most qui tam actions are investigated by OIG investigators.
As previously mentioned, most federal investigators of false claims cases, including OIG investigators, are trained as criminal investigators and, as a result, conduct mainly criminal investigations of false claims. Within the OIGs, most procurement or program fraud allegations of false claims are referred to them are investigated as criminal cases. Thus, most federal investigators do not have experience in investigating civil cases and the type of proof necessary to successfully prosecute such cases. This is starting to change as more civil attorneys within the U.S. attorney offices become involved in directing qui tam investigations as civil cases using federal investigator resources that were, in the past, not available to them.
The most important factor in the success of a government procurement and program fraud investigation is experience. These type of investigations are very difficult to pursue and take considerable patience since most of them take years to investigate. It requires a good understanding of the procurement system and the ability to analyze voluminous documents and ask questions on very complicated issues. It can take years for a very capable investigator to obtain enough on-the-job experience to be successful in these types of cases.
Unfortunately, the experience level, as well as resources, within most of the federal investigative agencies, especially within the OIGs, is declining due to major cutbacks. This means that many experienced investigators are retiring and not being replaced. The result will be that the federal investigative agencies that are normally tasked to investigate qui tam cases will be doing so with fewer and less experienced resources. On top of that, government-training programs used to train inexperienced investigators are, by and large, worthless in providing the necessary skills to properly investigate procurement and program fraud. Many training sessions teach outmoded, inefficient and irrelevant investigative methods. Some federal investigative agencies also use outmoded and inefficient methods in assigning and supervising caseloads – assigning caseloads of difficult and complicated cases to each investigator instead of developing investigative teams utilizing both experienced and inexperience personnel, and do not provide investigators with up to date equipment, support resources and technology to make difficult and complicated cases more efficient to investigate.
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