Federal agencies have numerous controls over time and attendance reporting by their employees and fraud by employees is rare, GAO has found.
It said that the IGs of 24 Cabinet departments and largest independent agencies had substantiated only 100 allegations of fraud all over the five years through 2019—including none at six of them and five or fewer at 19. Of the 15 that include time and attendance fraud risk in their risk management programs, 14 considered it low risk; the exception was the VA, which considers it medium risk.
Some agencies consider certain occupations or types of leave as being at higher levels risk, it added.
“Agencies reported using various internal controls, including technologies, to monitor time and attendance, which can also prevent and detect misconduct. According to agencies and IGs, first-line supervisors have primary responsibility for monitoring employee time and attendance. Additional internal controls include policies, procedures, guidance, and training,” GAO said.
Agencies reported using controls built into their timekeeping system including requiring supervisory approval of timecards, and using time and attendance system reports to review abnormal reporting, it said, adding that agencies mainly use such technologies after receiving allegations of misconduct, not for ongoing monitoring.
“While these technologies could be used for monitoring, agencies stated that their use is resource-intensive and that constant surveillance of employees can affect their morale. Additionally . . . these technologies may not help when an employee is intent on circumventing controls,” it said.
The report noted that such fraud can be the basis for disciplinary actions. It found that agencies are inconsistent in accounting for the basis for actions taken but that the most common were reprimands and suspension, with some cases of firing.