The Energy Department’s Office of the Inspector General says that the Department
faces major management challenges ranging from hacking vulnerabilities to foreign espionage and could create “massive new risks to the taxpayer” as it spends tens of billions of dollars in new spending from President Joe Biden’s signature infrastructure initiative[.]
The OIG goes on to say that the fraud risk is similar to the realized fraud from the Federal government’s Wuhan Virus Situation (my term, not OIG’s) spending, where taxpayers now lost an estimated $200 billion government wide.
The OIG also noted that
Fast money must be balanced against the need for thoughtful and effective internal controls and independent audits[.]
In truth, this sort of thing isn’t limited to DoE’s current plan or to the government’s Wuhan Virus response. It’s all too typical of government spending programs.
Here’s my thought. Balancing fast money with thoughtful and effective internal controls and independent audits is necessary, but insufficient. There must be attention-getting sanctions applied, also, for failure to perform, both ante facto and especially post facto.
Congress should, under its dozen allocation bills, proceed with allocations to DoE—and to the other Departments and Agencies—but with these requirements: the funds allocated will be withheld from actual disbursement to the Departments and Agencies until they certify that they have instituted controls that will greatly mitigate the ability for fraud to occur.
Then, if after the allocated funds are disbursed, fraud is discovered greater than, say $5 million dollars in any Department or Agency, that facility will have its subsequent year’s operating budget reduced by the amount of the fraud. If fraud is again discovered in the second year, that facility will have its operating and its personnel budgets each reduced by the accumulated amount of fraud, less any that was recovered from the prior year. In each subsequent year, the facility will have its operating and personnel budgets—again each of them—reduced by the amount of accumulated net fraud.
The facility must either shape up or disappear. The only facilities that can’t actually disappear, though they can be substantially reduced, are the constitutionally implied Departments of State, Defense, and Treasury. The rest of the Departments and all of the Agencies in the Executive Branch are later creations of Congress in conjunction with the President, and they can be eliminated by Congress if they prove unable to control their own fraud.
That will be hard to effect politically, but it’s a Critical Item fiscally.