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NYT: IG Brings Zeal To Stimulus Watchdog

Buried in the ‘Energy & Environment’ section of the New York Times:

Interior IG Brings Detective’s Zeal to Stimulus Watchdog Post

September 10, 2010

A federal agency’s inspector general can best be compared to a detective: The criminal commits the crime first, and investigators find out the details only after the damage is done.

But Earl Devaney hopes that will change with the methods he has helped develop as the stimulus’s main watchdog. The Interior Department’s inspector general has spent more than a year attempting to track the $787 billion that federal officials are quickly pumping into the economy through the Recovery Act.

"To equate this with a robbery on the street, by the time we got there the chalk had washed away where the body was. Never mind the body — it’s not there anymore," said Devaney, who has taken a leave-of-absence at Interior to become the chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (RAT Board).

Somehow “RAT Board” seems like the perfect name here.

And, yes, there are a lot of similarities between the Mr. Obama’s ‘stimulus’ and robbery on the street. Except perhaps the scale.

"Now we’re able to try to intercept that fraud, interrupt that fraud while it’s occurring, or prevent it from occurring in the first place."

And never mind that we were assured from the start that ‘Sherriff Joe’ was going to prevent any fraud from happening.

Whether Devaney has been successful is hard to measure. He contends that there has been "a lot less fraud" than expected, but the RAT Board has not done an analysis of what has so far been fraudulently spent.

Board spokesman Edward Pound called such statistics a "moving target";

Goodness knows, we can’t be told how much money has been found to have been fraudulently spent so far. Maybe they will get that figure to us by 2013 or so.

[T]he board has opened 424 investigations since it was created about 18 months ago, and more than 350 are ongoing. With criminal investigations taking about two years to complete, there has not been a single major indictment yet

What “zeal,” huh?

But in a recent interview, Devaney evoked enthusiastic confidence as he discussed RAT’s progress. From his modest Pennsylvania Avenue office — just a couple of blocks from the White House — Devaney oversees a staff of 50 to track billions of dollars as the government fans it across the country. He considers transparency as important as traditional investigations; the Recovery.gov website, he says, prevents an untold amount of fraud.

Yes, we all remember how Recovery.gov exposed all those fake Congressional districts that were being created.

"If I was a crook," he said with a slight Bostonian lilt, "and I wanted to steal money, it wouldn’t be this money. There’s too many eyeballs on it."

What a laugh. Think about the billions of dollars in truly absurd projects that have already been exposed – not by Mr. Devaney – or our watchdog media — of course, but by Congressional Republicans.

[Mr. Devaney] has kept a comparatively low profile despite overseeing a very public and controversial pot of money. Some observers have gotten impatient: At a committee hearing last month, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was rankled by what he saw as the RAT Board’s lack of convictions.

"This program has been going on for a year and a half, and all these are still ongoing? You haven’t completed one?" McCain asked Devaney, who explained the two-year timeline for criminal investigations. "That doesn’t inspire confidence in me."

Examples of prevented fraud are also vague: Devaney told McCain and other senators that several federal agencies withheld millions of dollars in contracts after the RAT Board discovered the recipients were ineligible. One company, he said, was set to receive $10 million before investigators "uncovered information showing the company was not eligible to receive contract awards." …

Yes, what a lot of “zeal” this shows. Mr. Devaney is a regular Eliot Ness.

"We don’t know how much fraud we have prevented," Devaney said. "I do think history will show that there was a lot less fraud in this effort than had been anticipated or that normally would occur with such a large amount of money."

This line must be taught to every administration official when they are hired on.

No matter how ineffective your work has been, always say that things would have been worse if it wasn’t for you.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, September 12th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

2 Responses to “NYT: IG Brings Zeal To Stimulus Watchdog”

  1. Liberals Demise says:

    Only zeal I’ve witnessed is the zeal to have one hand wash the other…….and
    as quick as possible.

  2. untrainable says:

    He contends that there has been “a lot less fraud” than expected, but the RAT Board has not done an analysis of what has so far been fraudulently spent.

    OK, the first problem with this statement illustrates what is wrong with government in very simple terms. A lot less fraud than expected. Exactly how much fraud do we expect? Is there a standardized chart on the amount of fraud that is acceptable within government? The fact that we EXPECT fraud is the problem. The fact that expecting it means that if there is less than the expected normal… that is good? Who ARE THESE PEOPLE?

    The second problem in this statement for me? How do you know there is less fraud than expected if you haven’t done an analysis of the amount fradulently spent? And by the way, do they keep the tally of the amount fraudulently spent seperate from the amount spent legitimately? That would make keeping track of the fraud money really easy. Maybe we can insitute a non-partisan committee to check into the possibility of seperate ledgers for legit and fraudulently spent funds. Probably save a lot of money that way. As long as actually tracking the fraud is deficit neutral. Again, WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?

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