OIG Investigators Working to Prevent Possible Fraud Related to Flooding in the Midwestern States
Last week DOT/OIG investigators began contacting transportation oversight providers and others located in the Midwestern States affected by recent Mississippi River flooding to ensure that Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officials, State personnel, and contractors are aware of “red flag” indicators related to possible fraud involving FHWA’s emergency relief program. This program provides funds for the repair or reconstruction of Federal–aid highways damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic events–including 100 percent reimbursement of expenses incurred for the removal of debris to restore essential traffic flows–which may be as much as 500,000 tons in Iowa alone. Based on lessons learned from the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes, we know debris removal activities are potentially susceptible to false claims, false statements, bribery, and conflicts of interest. We will initiate investigations, as appropriate, based on the results of our outreach efforts.