Bad Boys, Bad Boys, What You Gonna Do…

August 15, 2011 | By Adrianne Fielding | Post a Comment

Did you grow up listening to a police scanner?  Reading the local crime blotter?  I always loved the buzzing and crackling of my grandfather’s scanner in the background whenever we’d go visit, and although we didn’t have a police department in the small town where I grew up, I scoured the weekly crime reports in the area newspaper for familiar names and tales of misbehavior.

Here on the blog and in our publications, we’ve been writing a lot lately about how the pressure is increasing for the federal government to ensure more responsible and effective spending of taxpayer dollars — including grant dollars.  “Eliminating waste, fraud and abuse” has become one of the new rallying cries for the federal government, and between fewer grant dollars available for new awards and Recovery Act awards being in the reporting phase, there’s plenty of cracking down to be done.

On Friday, announced that about $700,000 in Recovery Act funds were among $2 million in federal funds recovered through recent criminal convictions by the  Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General. Five individuals associated with a grant-funded project in South Carolina were convicted of making fraudulent per diem payments to temporary subcontractors with Recovery and non-Recovery funds.

While our primary focus here is on funding-related issues in the U.S., a recent story from Mexico reminded me that the proper use of grant dollars is a challenge wherever grants are being made.

But it’s not only grant recipients who are subject to close scrutiny.  In the same way that program officers and auditors raise the anxiety level of a grantee, the Inspectors General get the federal funding agencies spun up.  While I’d like to think (and I’m sure the official government word would be) that the agencies and the IGs are cooperative partners in ensuring that government programs are being run efficiently and that taxpayer dollars are well-spent, the truth is somewhat different.  The IG offices are responsible for digging deeply into how federal agencies compete and administer their grant programs, and they’re not known for pulling many punches. How much do you think funding agencies enjoy that?  Right.

What do the IGs find?  Some good examples appear on, which recently linked to some new IG reports on ARRA spending, and provides links to all of the OIG websites that were created specifically for the Recovery Act.

It’s almost as good as a police scanner.


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