The inspector general offices of several large departments have issued warnings regarding covid-related spending, including a warning regarding protective equipment that the Justice Department is buying for its own employees—a concern that could apply to other agencies as well.
In an alert to departmental management, the Justice IG said it “has become aware of instances in which DOJ components may have been provided substandard or mislabeled personal protective equipment, including N-95 and KN-95 face mask respirators. In addition, the OIG has received allegations of pandemic-related price gouging. The OIG is taking appropriate action in response to these developments,” it said.
It cited www.cdc.gov/niosh as providing authoritative information on certified equipment and how to identify possible counterfeits.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department IG has issued an alert regarding the new unemployment insurance benefits—estimated $110 billion—under one of the virus relief bills, under which states are relying on individuals to self-certify that they have lost income for a reason related to the virus.
“The associated risk of improper payments and fraud is significant, as the UI program historically experiences some of the highest improper payment rates within the federal government,” it said, recommending that claimants be required to submit the same sort of proof required for standard unemployment benefits.
That follows recent messages from the IGs of several agencies warning of the potential for fraud and waste in the additional funding provided by the recent virus relief laws and recommending that agencies learn the lessons from past special spending boosts such as a 2009 recession relief law.