Feds have more than 1,900 investigations open into alleged stimulus wrongdoing
The Recovery Board charged with coordinating efforts among than inspectors generals at more than two dozen federal agencies that distributed stimulus money posted an item on its official blog last month claiming the total amount of money lost to fraud from the $840 billion stimulus program was a miniscule $11.1 million so far.
Vice President Joe Biden even made reference to the figure as he defended the stimulus program from attacks from Republican Rep. Paul Ryan during the vice presidential debate last Thursday. But that number only identifies money that is considered lost to fraud and does not include funds still under investigation or those recommended for reimbursement after audits identified misspending, officials said.
And a senior official familiar with the ongoing investigations by inspectors generals at federal agencies told the Washington Guardian the government expects the loss figure to balloon in coming months.
“These cases often take months or years, and we’ve got hundreds open right now across the government so that number is going to go up, probably by a large amount over the next 18 months,” the official said, speaking only on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak to the media.
Since the blog post a month ago that released the $11 million figure, several inspectors generals have announced new convictions, prosecutions or audits, a sign that some of the investigations are growing near decisions and actions.
For instance, the Energy Department inspector general reported last week it discovered the California energy commission collected two duplicate payments under a stimulus program that costs taxpayers $678,000 and and it recommended the money be repaid.