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News > Commentary - Be knowledgeable in the fight of fraud, waste and abuse
Be knowledgeable in the fight of fraud, waste and abuse

Posted 6/4/2012   Updated 6/4/2012 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Steve Wisniewski
673d ABW deputy inspector general

6/4/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- In these lean days of budget reductions and efficiencies, identifying Fraud Waste and Abuse is a high interest item of military leaders across all services. As manpower and supplies are stretched to the limit, we simply can't afford any misuse of what resources we have.

In our search for FWA, we will not find any $30,000 toilets or $5,000 hammers as in days gone by, but there still may be other misuses of our resources out there. An active FWA program is not only essential for efficient and effective operations; it is also a professional responsibility and a moral imperative for everyone.

The key to prevention, detection and reporting of FWA, is the recognition of conditions that can allow abuses. It is important to remember these conditions often appear as minor administrative or managerial irregularities on the surface, but the "indicators" of these conditions provide the initial warning and drive the need for a closer look.

It is important to know what truly constitutes FWA versus an inefficient practice or an unforeseen negative result of honest actions. The following definitions will assist you in properly identifying FWA when you have discovered some information or a practice that seems inappropriate or wasteful.

Fraud is any intentional deception designed to unlawfully deprive the United States of something of value or to secure from the United States for an individual, a benefit, privilege, allowance, or consideration to which he or she is not entitled. 

Such practices include, but are not limited to, the offer, payment or acceptance of bribes or gratuities; making false statements; submitting false claims; using false weights or measures; evading or corrupting inspectors or other officials; deceit either by suppressing the truth or misrepresenting material fact; adulterating or substituting materials; falsifying records and books of accounts; arranging for secret profits, kickbacks, or commissions; and conspiring to use any of these devices. The term also includes conflict of interest cases, criminal irregularities, and the unauthorized disclosure of official information relating to procurement and disposal matters.

What do you do if you suspect fraud? Contact Air Force Office of Special Investigation when fraud is suspected. Failure to contact them could jeopardize an investigation.

If AFOSI elects not to pursue an investigation due to the allegation not meeting certain monetary standards or the allegation is not deemed criminal by OSI, contact the Inspector General, Security Forces or the Air Force Audit Agency to analyze the indicators.

Waste is the extravagant, careless, or needless expenditure of government funds, or the consumption of government property that results from deficient practices, systems, controls or decisions. 

The term also includes improper practices not involving prosecutable fraud.

What is the recommended action to take? Consult the IG; conduct an internal or external inspection, commander-directed investigation or Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century continuous process improvement or eight-step problem-solving event.

Abuse is the intentional or improper use of government resources that can include the excessive or improper use of one's position, in a manner contrary to its rightful or legally intended use.

Examples include misuse of rank, position or authority, or misuse of Department of Defense resources.

Report potential abuse issues to your squadron Commander, 1st Sgt, FWA Monitor or the IG as appropriate.

Even if what you discover doesn't fit the definitions of FWA, please point out any inefficiency that you find. It's up to each of us to identify and eliminate unnecessary drains on our shrinking resources.

Reporting FWA is accomplished through supervisors, commanders, the IG Complaints Resolution Process via DoD, Air Force, Major Command, base and Squadron FWA monitor Hotline phone numbers, or OSI and Security Forces as appropriate. The Air Force FWA Hotline is (202) 404-5354 or (800) 538-8492 or FAX: (202) 404-5429.

The DoD hotline is (800) 424-9098.

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