We joined a panel of federal officials from partner Offices of Inspectors General (OIGs) to share lessons learned, case studies, and trends in pandemic relief oversight. This workshop series, hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, shares best practices for managing federally funded grants, programs, and resources with officials from local governments.
PRAC Chair Michael Horowitz opened the workshop with an overview of the PRAC, followed by discussions on the PRAC’s efforts to advance transparency, support data-driven investigations, and coordinate with state and local governments. Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:
The PRAC’s website is a model for transparency that empowers the public to track pandemic spending.
“One of the key responsibilities that we have is ensuring transparency,” said Chair Horowitz. “As Inspectors General, in every context – not just the pandemic – we want to make sure the public knows where its money has gone and how it's been spent. This is one of the mandates in the CARES Act for us as a community.”
Using our interactive dashboards, the public has the ability to make sense of the $5 trillion in pandemic relief spending by exploring millions of rows of pandemic funding data and details on specific relief programs. Users can also learn about the biggest fraud cases investigated by the Department of Justice and the PRAC Fraud Task Force.
The PRAC tracks pandemic relief spending at all levels of government. Our website features hundreds of reports from OIGs and state and local governments to inform the public of our ongoing oversight efforts.
The PRAC engages with oversight partners and Executive Branch leadership to coordinate on key issues.
We connect regularly with federal, state, and local auditors to discuss single audit requirements, share fraud alerts, and provide guidance from the Office of Management and Budget.
In September 2022, we added state-level expertise to our oversight team to gain a better understanding of how we can strengthen coordination efforts at the state and local level. Elaine Howle, special advisor for state, local, tribal, and territorial oversight and former California state auditor, brings nearly 40 years of professional auditing and leadership experience to the PRAC.
“Some of the work I've been doing for the PRAC is looking at some local government audits,” said Howle. Through her work, she’s identified common issues among state agencies while managing pandemic relief programs, including not following federal eligibility requirements for applicants, not conducting robust oversight of pandemic relief benefits, and not incorporating risk management tools to prevent the disbursement of fraudulent and improper payments.
The PRAC uses data to identity fraud and hold wrongdoers accountable.
In 2021, using funding provided by Congress in the American Rescue Plan, the PRAC created the Pandemic Analytics Center of Excellence (PACE) to deliver analytic, audit, and investigative support to the oversight community.
Our data scientists at the PACE analyze millions of lines of data in public and nonpublic federal spending datasets to share tips and leads with OIGs and law enforcement officials. This level of advanced data analytics supports investigators’ work on cases involving identity fraud, multi-dipping When a recipient receives money from multiple federal sources and uses it for the same purpose, this could be an indication of multi-dipping. , and fraud across pandemic relief programs. These investigators include those who are members of the PRAC Fraud Task Force, a whole-of-government effort that “has turned out to be one of our biggest success stories,” said Tyrone Gillins, national program manager for investigations at the PRAC.
The PRAC Fraud Task Force details more than 50 experienced investigators from 15 OIGs to investigate fraud and uncover schemes that provide valuable leads for the IG community. To date, the work of the PRAC Fraud Task Force and our OIG partners have resulted in hundreds of criminal convictions, lengthy jail sentences for wrongdoers, and the recovery of more than $1 billion.
This activity does not constitute or imply an endorsement of Bloomberg Philanthropies and the U.S. Conference of Mayors or any of their products or services by the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, or the United States government.
Michael Horowitz: Chair of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee and Inspector General of the Department of Justice
Rich Delmar: Deputy Inspector General, Department of the Treasury
Deborah Harker: Assistant Inspector General for Audit, Department of the Treasury
Tyrone “Tye” Gillins: National Program Manager for Investigations, PRAC
Elaine Howle: Special Advisor for State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Oversight, PRAC and former California State Auditor
Pamela Van Dort: Senior Advisor to the Assistant Inspector General for Investigation, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development