It’s no shock that a political change in the Executive Branch leads to an increase in grant fraud and procurement fraud enforcement. The reason? There is low risk in scrutinizing grants and contracts awarded by the outgoing administration. Whatever shenanigans are discovered by a new Administration will have occurred during the term of the previous administration and any negative economic impacts from pulling a grant or imposing a fine, will only impact the grant recipient and, potentially, its subcontractors, who are often presumed by an incoming Administration to have stronger ties to its predecessor.
Imagine you are a high-level Department of Justice official in a new administration positioned to deploy resources toward matters you believe most merit investigation and possible prosecution. You will need to work on accomplishing the new Administrations mission as well as continue to satisfy your existing management chain with positive results. What is the best way to move forward in this environment.
The most obvious way is to go after the low-hanging fruit: to aim the enforcement initiative at situations in which there is a high risk/reward ratio. Nowhere in white collar enforcement, is this ratio more favorable than in the realm of grant fraud and procurement fraud enforcement (GFPFE). Contributing to the richness of this area from an enforcement standpoint is that since 2009 the enforcement apparatus adopted a rigid prevention model, decreased the number of federal agents developing cases, increased barriers between the investigations and audit components of the Office of Inspector Generals (OIG’s) and made it more difficult to engage in aggressive or effective GFPFE. This shift away from effective GFPFE in 2009 coincided with the largest spending increase in government history so it stands to reason there will be plenty of cases worth developing.