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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Department of Justice Launches Initiative to Combat Stimulus Fraud

WASHINGTON — The Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice announced details today of an initiative to prepare government officials and contractors to recognize and report efforts to profit unlawfully from stimulus projects awarded under The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The program aims to help government agencies insulate procurement, grant and program funding processes from collusion and fraud, and ensure prosecution of those who abuse those processes.

"It is not lost on anyone, public servants and taxpayers alike, that along with the tremendous opportunity to help revive the economy that the Recovery Act provides, comes tremendous responsibility," said Christine A. Varney, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department's Antitrust Division.

"Fraud, waste and abuse of these stimulus funds will not be tolerated and the Antitrust Division is committed to doing everything possible to help protect the integrity of the government funding processes that are critical to making the stimulus plan a success."

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was signed into law by President Obama on Feb. 17, 2009. It is an effort to jumpstart the economy and create or save jobs.

The Antitrust Division's Recovery Initiative involves training procurement and grant officials, government contractors, and agency auditors and investigators, on techniques for identifying the "red flags of collusion" before stimulus awards are made and taxpayer money is unnecessarily wasted. The initiative makes Antitrust Division competition experts available to agencies, to evaluate procurement and program funding processes. These experts will make recommendations on "best practices" to further protect processes from fraud, waste and abuse and maximize open and fair competition. Finally, the initiative commits the Antitrust Division to a significant role in investigating and prosecuting suspected fraud.

According to the announcement, the Antitrust Division's Recovery Initiative is already making a significant impact. Since March 2009, in partnership with agency Inspector Generals handling stimulus funds, the Antitrust Division has already assisted in training thousands of federal and state procurement, grant and program officials nationwide, with thousands more scheduled to be trained in the coming months.

The Antitrust Division has also launched a Recovery Initiative Web site through which consumers, contractors and federal, state and local agencies, can review information about the antitrust laws and the Division's training programs, request training, and report suspicious activity. The Web site is located at http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/public/criminal/economic_recovery.htm.

This Web site is linked to www.recovery.gov, the official website of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which is responsible for overseeing federal agencies to ensure that there is transparency and accountability for the expenditure of Recovery Act funds. Sphere: Related Content

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