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tv   Atlantic Council Discussion on the Role of the Inspector General  CSPAN  March 27, 2019 6:54pm-8:02pm EDT

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of concerned scientists, edwin limon. at 4:00 pm on real america, watch the 1979 cbs report, fallout from three-mile island. >> please stay indoors with your windows closed. >> reporter: for almost a week last month, the people of middletown pennsylvania lived in fear of an enemy they couldn't see, hear or feel. >> watch american history tv this weekend on cspan 3. >> a number of inspectors general discuss their role in uncovering fraud at federal agencies. reporting to congress and how technology impacts their work. hosted by the atlanta council and reuters, this is an hour and five minutes.
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issa r >> so it's really great for me, thinking about the partners here between the atlanta council and reuters. and i wanted to thank you again for being here this evening.
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also thanks to our friends at thompson reuters for making this event possible. their continued partnership and support. so let's give them a round of applause upfront. this event is part of a larger series on the power of transparency. a collaboration between the atlanta council and thompson reuters. in particular the series does feature top government leaders who are working to increase transparency in their respective fields through initiatives that combat corruption and terrorism. expand market access. promote financial and economic stability.
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and also advance innovation. some of the previous distinguished speakers include the managing director of the international monetary fund. and also the former undersecretary of defense for intelligence. among many others. we know that the role of transparency will again play a very large role. it does. and it certainly will in today's discussion. we may not always think about the federal government every day. but when we need government services, we expect and trust them to work. and in the white house management agenda, the administration had identified three drivers of transformation. one is "it", modernization. data accountability and transparency. and workforce for the future.
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today's speakers really represent several u.s. agencies. different objectives and mandates. and that's gonna be great for this discussion. i of course it should be said, it's truly important for our government. because it can increase efficiency and also transparency. which as we know is crucial to build trust with u.s. citizens. so in this way, i think you can expect our speakers to share a number of success stories. but at the same time to identify some of the remaining challenges in the very critical work that they do to protect tax payers from fraud, waste, and abuse. and also posit how technology is transforming
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their agencies. soed if's discussion is on the record in hine with transparency. and after our moderator kicks off the panel, we're gonna look forward to engaging you in a vibrant q&a. i have the privilege of saying a few words and inviting the speaker to the stage to open up the discussion. steve is a great former colleague of me at thompson reuters. she managing director of reuters government decision. it's in this capacity that steve is running the overall direction to provide insight around
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security in the federal government and through the combination, very important combination of global content, analytical tools, and analysts. and last but not least, i do want to invite all of you, since you made the trek here, and through that wonderful storm outside, that after the panel, we're gonna have a networking reception. and we hope that you'll stay and certainly mingle with the panelists, with steve among others. and we look forward to what promises to be a very good and very vibrant discussion. thank you. [ applause ] >> good evening, everybody. and i'd like to echo what paula said. and we're in the middle of the ncaa tournament so thank you. and paula, thank you for what you've done for the country and the world. i'd like to thank you all for coming.
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it's my honor to be here at the atlanta council. the seventh installment of a joint power transparency series. i'd like to thank the atlanta council for their partnership. and recognize bart houston, for his partnership and leadership. so thank you, guys. [ applause ] >> so we're honored here to welcome inspectors general from across the government. with us is michael horwitz. petty gustafson from commerce. the department of defense. and levinson from the department of health and human services. welcome and thank you all for your service. they are here to discuss their common mandate of fighting fraud, waste and abuse
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on behalf of you, tax payers. why now? because more than ever, these leaders and others are dealing with matters that are increasingly complex from national crime to corruption to healthcare and procurement fraud. each of our states faces unique challenges that are increasingly part of public discussion by the media. the fight against corruption today is truly a team effort. our investigative services partners with law enforcement and private sector companies to increase transparency, expose corruption, and bring bad actors to justice and protect the public. throughout all gover institutions, there is an increasing requirement for
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information and transparency, mandating the perspective that says life on the work of the ig's is a return on the investment they provide. through an extremely impressive group of experts talk about how they do this. i look forward to the discussion. first, it's my pleasure to introduce you to sarah lynch who will be moderating today's session. sarah is a criminal justice correspondent with reuters news. responsible for covering the justice department, which includes doj investigations. sayrar joined reuters in 2011 to cover white collar crime and previously worked in the walls journal to cover the federal government's response to the 2007-2009 housing crisis. join me in welcoming sarah. [ applause ]
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>> thank you for that introduction. if i seem jittery, i've been on mueller report duty this entire week in the justice department. i think this is all very timely a topic for a panel. all you have to do is look at the headlines day in and day out that are coming out about people who are taking lavish overseas trips, buying fancy office furniture, to know that the role of the inspector general is arguably more important now than ever before. i wanted to start off by introducing our speakers briefly. talk about one o really important cases of what they've done during their time. michael horwitz has been serving as the inspector general at the justice department since 2012. and since 2015 has chaired the council of the inspectors
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general on integrity. he has worked in private practice and as a prosecutor in the southern district of new york. most people here are probably familiar with the work his office did recently in a 500-page report looking at the fbi's decision-making during the 2016 presidential election. that report found that former fbi director comey committed a serious error of judgment when he announced that they would be reopening the fbi's investigation into hillary clinton's e-mails right before the election. michael? >> next we have dan levinson. he has served as inspector general at the department of health and human serves for more than a decade. he overcease more than 1,600 employees who are collectively working to protect the country's $1 trillion key investment in federal health
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programs, including medicaid and medicare. and other roles including inspector general at the government services administration. there's a case currently going on that his office has gotten a lot of press down in miami. i've been told it is involving an individual. a $1 billion case involving a defendant who not only was engaged in a kickback scheme but also allegedly came up with a plan to steal patients' at an assisted living facility to bill for unnecessary medical services.
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>> and his office has also been ongoing in its investigation of the leonard corruption scandal. and peggy gustafson. inspector general at the department of commerce since january of 2017. and before that, she also served as inspector general at the small
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business administration since october of 2009. she also worked on some important piece of legislation, including the inspector general report of 2008. and she presided over an investigation that involved a $100 million scheme. and the federal defendants submitted false claims to lenders to try to make their income and assets appear rosier than they were. so we have a great group here. i just want to spell out in a broad breadth. you work at very, very large departments. and you have many different things that come across your
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desks. congressional requests for investigations. you have to conduct odd is. you do analysis of data, you look for fraud. how do you set your priorities? how do you know where to focus? >> we do get far more requests than we have people to staff. we get many letters from congress, statutory requirements. so we go into the year recognizing that we have some discretion, certain mandatory things we have to do, requirements. and to think about what are the risks that we see across the department of justice that we should be looking at in
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the places where we have the ability, to our discretion, to do the work? and those are really valuable to have that process. partly what you do is use the annual report that requires to be done pursuant to law, in performance challenges. and you use that, which we go through in november. and all the ids you have to did it in november. you go through the risks. what are the major issues? and how can we as ig's appropriately and effectively impact the investigate? that's what we're trying to think about. how this overwhelming incoming series of requests. >> do you get overwhelmed by the congressional requests that come in?
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>> i think one of the important things is finding a really polite way to say no. especially to congress. be as polite as you possibly can. because it can be overwhelming. so i think all of us sometimes from the agency, sometimes from other stakeholders. it's not a function of being overwhelmed as it is of making sure you have the line was communication open where if you're not going to be able to do it, maybe that supporter who's asking, understands why that didn't develop given other things. but it's definitely a challenge, i think. >> we have a large organization. 1,800 employees that. sounds like a lot, but it's not a lot given the size of the department of defense. the department of defense is the biggest
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organization in the world. so we do have a lot that comes in. on the audit and evaluations side, about 25% of what we do is statutorily required. like michael talked about, we try and affect what the key representatives are for the department of defense. and we do the top-10 managed challenges every year. we make sure we have coverage in those key areas. we also ask the leaders of your department, what do you think you should be doing? what areas would be important to you? we don't always get a lot of ideas. we sometimes do. but we will definitely take that into account. we certainly take into account what congress requests. but we have to assess whether it's a good use of our resources. on the investigative side, however, a lot of things in different ways. we have a hotline with 16,000 complaints every year. a lot of them are frivolous. some of them belong in other entities and we send
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them to other entities. but some are them are very serious. and that's one way you get matters, and we look at those matters. i was the igof justice, and when i was the ig there, we had the hotline, and we'd get all sort was complaints. i'll never forget this. we got one saying i was speeding on the new jersey turnpike. that's not justice. you're the department of justice. what are you gonna do about it? and what we did is we sent them to the new jersey turnpike authority about. you some of those complaint are serious. some of those whistleblowers have serious matter, we take them seriously. and we open the ones that we think are relevant and important. >> before we get into some other discussions, if you could each just very briefly testimony people about one of the biggest things that's on your plate right now, one of the biggest projects you're working on. >> i'm happy to start. i did want to mention a couple of my colleagues have already, the top management challenges.
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and i even did some show and tell by bringing this. it's such a valuable document, i think, produced annually by our auditor. and i would really, really encourage the viewers to take a look on our website. and it can be done within a relatively small couple. a very comprehensive view of the many, many issues that have to be dealt with in our healthcare program. it gives you kind of a window into a lot of things that you wouldn't ordinarily associate with our office. and one of the most important initiatives i'm involved with right now concerns unaccompanied children. not only children who cross the border looking for legal status. and many people may not know our office is very involved in making sure the facilities that these unaccompanied children wind up in as a result of referral, from the department of homeland
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security, these facilities are being examined by our office. and we have been able to collect 200 evaluators, lawyers, criminal invest orgz, audi investigators, auditors to examine whether the health and safety for these children are being properly taken care of. looking at the underlying control reallies and making sure these facilities are capable of doing the jobs they have been assigned to. >> we are a fascinating department. very large, 70,000 employees. and we're only about 170 people at commerce ig.
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so our priorities are often governed by the census, for example. because the census is undertaken and it's bart of the department of commerce. so that's a very big focus for us. that is one of the areas where we get funding specifically to do work on the census. a couple areas that we get. we get work specifically to do that. because it's a tremendous amount of money. of course there's twenty 20 and it happens whether you're ready or not. we're looking at the censusful they do an end to end test that they did last year. so we're looking to see how well that runs and if we can make any recommendations before the census starts for 2020. one of the things that became a big focus for us, the department of commerce actually has the
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process. that has been very, very big for us the last couple of years, it's a big focus of this administration. and it was something commerce itself had to step up very quickly. they overwhelmed with request exemptions. so that's an example of something that was overtaken by those evens and we're working in that area as well. >> and did you want to briefly talk about a project you're working on before we step in? >> it is a large office. the first time last year we did a full audit of the department of defense's financial statement, it's ongoing. it's every year. it's not like they say in nba basketball, one and done. it's a persistent effort. and the controller of the department of defense called it the largest financial statement audit in the history of the universe. i don't know if that's true or not
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it's over 1,000 independent public examiners, auditors doing audits of over 20 individual financial statement. we were the group auditor. we rolled it up into one opinion. there disclaimer of opinion. the most important thing was finding the deficiencies, identifying the deficiencies, and how does the department improve these deficiencies? people ask why is the opinion important? it's required, no. 1. but it's important because the public and the congress need to know how the money is being spent. no. 2, it's gonna have real-world impact on the operatings of the department. if they don't know what steps they have for aircraft, they may not have enough steps to fly the aircraft. or maybe they designed too much, and they don't know what's in their inventory. so it has real-world implications.
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it also has information technology efforts. and implications. because we look at the information technology in a cyber security system. it's a very important effort and we need to keep going forward with that. >> michael, do you have anything you want to add? >> i'll just mention a couple of other things we have under review at the justice department. the justice department has about 110,000 employees. we have about 500 employees. $20 billion base budget. $100 million for oig. to give you a sense of that, that's what many are. that's 3/10 of one cent.
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that's what we're generally getting as ig's. and we oversee our two biggest components at the justice department, the federal bureau of prisons. so the federal prison system. and the fbi. they comprise about 80,000 there of the 110,000 at the justice department. so we look where the money goes, where the staffing goes. where they are, including money going out for grants and contracts. >> okay. thank you so much. i want to talk about another topic that i think is to the heart of what you do, and what bei inspector general is also about. independent. the law requires you to keep the heads of the department informed and congress informed. and you have to balance the demand was both. but you also have to be independent. how do you strike that balance?
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we talk a littlit bit about how you double that. >>, the two big things i do are audits and make sure the books are honest. and making sure if there's any kind of criminal activity that that is pu in cooperation of the justice department. and keeping those two functions straight, everything else kind of follows from that. congress has the power of the purse so they're always entitled to know about the money. and it's the executive branch that enforces the law. so on the law enforcement side, we're working hand in glove with the justice department to vindicate the laws of the united states. always talking as much as possible to everybody who's interested.
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and making sure the primary interests are the two political branches are taken care of. >> it's the corner stone principle of an ig, to be independent. and we need to make sure that we keep both of them informed. that we will issue our reports and do the work based upon our assessment of the facts and the evidence. i do think it's important to educate people about that. not everybody understands the ig concept. and you have to early on talk about the ig, and what the ig act
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requires and discuss what is appropriate and what is not appropriate. and i have been fortunate, every one of them understood that mission and accepted that mission. sometimes it's like battling a bashed fire fence, dealing with congress and others. but it is important to do that. we put together what is called a presidential transitional table. it's important to potentially understand what the role of the ig is, when they may not have been familiar with it in the past. i was talking to a new attorney general about our role. and at the end of the discussion about independence, he scratched his head and says so you're telling me i can't order you to do that? and i said yes, that's
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correct. that's what the ig act requires. and he said okay, we'll follow the law. so i do think it's important to discuss what the law is, to educate new officials and to go only where the facts and the evidence lead. that's the only way you can do it. >> you didn't have this experience before, but there have been other cases that have been in the news, where inspectors general have clashed with the heads of departments. rolled out the first daily. and ever since that, the paper as well about the v.a. inspector general and secretary about access to information. have you experienced anything similar? and if you haven't, how do you think you would handle that type of an issue, especially if it goes out into the open like ha?
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>> well, we had five years of a dispute that went on. right as i was leaving as ig, the rest for me. the battle. over access to records. because we had the same issue. which was all of a sudden, 20 years into our existence, records is that we'd gotten for 20 years, the department decided we might not have a legal right to get them. primarily this abuse was between our office and the fbi and the da. which was invoking that rationale. and it end up in that five-year period, until congress passed the law rejecting the notion of the idea that we didn't have access, and made it clear we had access to all the record, i probably testified half a dozen times in hearings opposite with some very frustrated officials from the
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department, getting yelled at bee congress. but that was impairing our work. you have can't be an ig and get 98% of the records. or 92% of the records. because you don't know what's in the remaining records. and it we're gonna put out a report, we're gonna have it be thorough, complete. and you need to talk and have dialogue with the leadership of the department. whichever department you're working in. and make sure you have open communication. but ultimately, you look at the acts, it gives you a fair amount of guidance in what to do in these situations. >> and one thing i would say too
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is that the council inspector general is support for other igs's. and michael has done a traffic job to try and speak with one voice as an ig commune. and that can have some forceful effects. so while we're all individuals, we often can come together and speak with a common understanding of what the ig act requires and what we need to do our jobs. and michael has done a fantastic job of supporting ig's who have been challenged in various ways. >> and the author of the law to do this thing. i think you're as well secure as anybody given you helped write the law. but it has made a difference to have that body created in 2008.
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and we speak a lot more effectively when we speak together as communities rather than one ig having an individual fight. >> and what you were talking bjust say no. we're in a political charged environment. congress is getting more divided than ever. they're outgoing, you main be done with your audit. about, just say no. we're in a political charged environment. congress is getting more divided than ever. they're outgoing, you main be done with your audit. and you don't want your reports to become political weapons. but you also want to explore your responses. you can stop your eventual product from being weaponized, as it were.
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because once it leaves yours. you've done all you can do. and it just becomes out of your hands. i will say that vigotten a lot of congressional requests in the last commerce, for example. and i really had some before at fda. and i think it's crucial that you build that relationship. some of it really is saying i can't tell you that right that's really the biggest source of tension, i think. from the agency and the hill. sometimes they want to know things before they're fully baked. and that's important for an ig to protect doing the work. know your auditors and investigators from that kind of insertion of somebody else trying to get into it before
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it's done. i am appreciative of the talk about the 2008 reenforcement. i think that was very helpful. having one voice and having it now statutory and not just an executive order. that was crucial. but i remain ten years into my tenure as an ig. i still remain in awe of the 1978 law, frankly. having been in an audit stop for eight years before that, there's really nothing quite like it that i've seen. and we are within the agency. yet we are holding the pen. nobody can tell us what to do or what not to do. and both of those are incredibly important. and sometimes if one or the other branch of government is mad at you, that dual-reporting requirement is your best friend. because if it's an issue with the agency, it's very clearly spelled out what you as an ig would do to
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report an issue on that. and there are some mandatory reporting requirements on issues. and the same goes for auditing the department. and you owe them the responsibility that when that audit is going on, that's not public right then. there are things going on that you simply can't answer those questions. so it's not easy. but i think if you are consistent about that, and they know that's the answer, it goes a long way. >> what do you do if your recommendations aren't followed? i do read a lot of reports. a lot of ig reports. yes, i do. and i see these recommendations year after year. they're not done, they still row main open. or you have a case where they say we don't agree with this recommendation. >> we actually produce annually an implemented recommendations report.
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which assembles scores of reports that we've written which we have made recommendations to be included in the program. and they have yet to be implemented. and we have found that by engaging in a very personal way, by actually pin pointing the most skwernl shares, we've gotten some serious progressobbing able to follow up on those, progress, on being able to follow up on those unimplemented recommendations. and i think the success within the department, as well as the continued success with congress, having not episodical conversations but having it continual. where it really doesn't end. and on capitol hill, i'm not that frequent a
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visitor, to be honest. because in the healthcare space, there's a lot of complexities. and so it is with many of our issues. and i am very excited about the talent that we have within our inspector general's office. really very, very thoughtful, insightful, talented professionals across an incredibly large range of disciplines. they represent me and the office. and they engage in members and staff regularly. and as a result, i have to say that relations, both sides of the aisle, both chambers on a continuing basis. i just don't hear about the friction. i don't see the friction. what i see are people, first of all, trying to really understand what is at issue. and second of all, making sure that they understand what we can do, whatture jurisdiction is, and what our expertise is.
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our jurisdiction is, and what our expertise is. and i think that makes a huge difference on making sure that no matter what the temperature is on some of the issues that we deal with, we're able to remain with our expertise, the independence, and very importantly, get the kind of respect that our work deserves. >> a couple years ago, we decided to put another a compendium for the department. we found there were 1,200 of them. some old, some new. we say we can't force the department of defense to do anything other than to respond to our recommendation. but if they say we're gonna implement them, they. we talk about the high-dollar value ones, and the most significant ones. the secretary of defense saw the issue, and he took action. he asked for regular briefings on what people were gonna do to
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implement the ig recommendation or provide evident where it had been overtaken by events. and when that happens, action gets taken. sunshine is the best disinfectant. and we can provide a spotlight on issues. >> thank you for that. that's very helpful. i wanted to move to the discussion about data, talking about innovation and technology. and how you can utilize that to your benefit. when i look at some of the different work your office does, particularly hhs ig, and a lot of the fascinating work you've been doing trying to ferret out who are the doctors that are overprescribing opioids? how do you look at people possibly getting too many prescriptions, what types of drugs are likely to be abused or overbilled?
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maybe you can talk a little bit about how you're using some of these tools and technologies and big data to detect that or maybe even hopefully prevent things before they get out of hand. >> very much, sarah. i think the ability now to use technology to get real-time data on a massive scale has transformed the way in which we do business. and the way in which the healthcare industry, for that matter, does business. at hhs, we have enormous amounts of data coming in. we have claiming data. encounter data for managed care and medicaid. we have prescription drug data. and we're able to understand much better patterns of the conduct with respect to how healthcare is actually delivered. and that not only leads to important
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fraud cases but it also gives important insight into how, ultimately, the healthcare platforms are going to be changed. in terms of payment and delivery. it gives us a window into how healthcare operates on the ground. the paper kind of record had its advantages in terms of being able to audit what transpired and what didn't. we know from the very high proper payment rate that that was a very catch as catch can system. and being able now with technology to develop something that could be far better understood on a macro and mikro scale simultaneously now is able to give us far more effective tools. >> could you talk about a case
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where you ply utilized that data? where ten years ago, you never would have thought about it. >> the takedown last summer in which there were a number of fraud cases brought. they were very much based on the idea within the opioid space that we saw the kind of prescription pattern that claimants made. made no sense from the standpoint of fair and reasonable practice of medicine. >> anyone else want to jump in yeah, a couple thoughts come to mind. first off, the increasing data that's available, i think there are some limiting a asks caveats
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that have to come with it. i think it is absolutely a force multiplier for inspectors general to have that talent in there but the underlying data has to be reliable. and we have had some work that we've done where we have had to release a report with caveats saying we couldn't go as far as we wanted to and make the projection that we wanted to because in the end you simply couldn't trust the data. and i think that's gonna take a while. i don't think it'll ever not be a problem. but certainly government, it's such a big task for government to get data. quality, get it all in that format. i think we're a ways away from what it'll eventually be. i think it'll be a lot better eventually.
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and our office, the census has big plans to rely very heavily on electronic data. they hope that most data will respond on the internet. and if they don't, they hope the enumerators who will go out to try to track them will have things on their phone. and there'll be a lot of data that, assuming it all works, and we don't know that yet. because you cannot buy that off the shelf. nobody is making something, you want something to knock on people's houses and interview them. so in 2010, for example, and that was a million years ago, data-wise, they had the plan to have handheld device devices. then the census was on paper. and so again, because the technology is important, if it works, it'll be fascinating. there'll be a lot of data that we'll be able to see and that
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census will be able to use to see if the enumerators are where they should be. >> the defense, the vast majority of them when you're doing your healthcare claims, submitting it to the claims adjustor, they do it on paper. >> one of things, because of that, $28 billion to spend. $1 billion plus is for new health staff. so we wanted to look the potential fraud. we went to the d.o.t. and said give us the data. because we want to compare and look at it. 121 federal prisons, about 20 of them were
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on electronic records. that's been require forward how many years now? multiple years. and that meant there were 100 prisons that were getting a piece of paper to their intermediates to pass on to them to sign. and you can't do data analytics with paper. it doesn't work. so we issued a report that said you've gotta get into the 2000's, at least. and move forward. because you don't know what you had. and in the handful of prisons who did have, we identified significant anomalies. i'll also mention in the data analytics space, identifying where the ig's are coming together because one of the benefits over the fight over access to records is where do we get congress to also include a provision that exempted us from data-matching provisions. so we as ig's could look for program
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fraud across agencies. healthcare being an example. v.a. has healthcare fraud, etc. we are doing more of that. and we need to do more of that. >> we have a few minute, then we're gonna take questions. cyber security, maybe you can talk about this. cyber security in general is a hot topic. and there's a lot of concern about risks to our government network. and i be that your management challenges involve threats to our government, including russia, north korea. can you talk a little bit about are there concerns about how we can better protect our networks from state actors or other cyber security risks that you're seeing and that you would recommend that we would take steps to improve to protect ourselves? >> i can talk a little bit about
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it in unclassified contacts. but it is a key issue. because everything relies on "it", and without "it" systems and cyber security, the operational missions would be compromised. it is a challenge given the range of systems that the dod has. given the fact that "it" is involved with everything, from the most advanced fighter aircraft. because we are at risk, and we need to ensure that there is adequate cyber security so much it's a very important issue for the dod and an important issue for us. we have done a series of audit and it is investigations. some classified, some unclassified, talking about the challenges in cyber
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security. so it's not going away. so we're involved with it, and we'll continue to be involved with it. >> thank you so much. i'm gonna open it up for questions. and we have a microphone. i was also asked, please don't ask about an ongoing investigation. don't ask michael about the carter page investigation. he can't talk about it. as much as we all want to know. >> jean smith, smith brandon international. the germans require that every website, its commercial site, has a page called combleszum. which gives contact information. for the website master. and my question, peggy, i think is for ump how do we get a law drafted that would eliminate, you know, don't
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contact me. heme contact you. all those commercial website pages out there. the contact page is really me putting my name in. where do we go? who to we get it support from to have really valuable contact information on a commercial website? >> i think the key on trying to get legislation passed is you need a champion, right? one of the reasons that the 2008 ig act, i think, passed, and. there had been many attempts to get it passed before that. senator mccaskill came in and apparently didn't know it was supposed to take time. let's get this done. and we were successful at that. it's hard to get the hill to focus on one thing because the hill re
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codo have a million things on their plate. so if you have something that is gonna require legislation, it really is, i think, crucial to figure out who is it in iert the house or the senate who speaks about this issue? and it is clearly important to them. and let's start talking to them. and you just need to find an attendee, just one person. and i don't know that issue. but somebody on the hill cares deeply about that issue, you know what i mean? or somebody on the hill has a constituent that talks to them all the time that cares very, very deeply on that issue. and it's a function of trying to find that person, and then having those discussions, and dealing with staffers as possible. so working from there would be my thought.
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>> thank you. paula stern. i'm interested in the role the invention of the inspector general, back to 1978, and then what's become of the work of the gao, and the former office of technology for that assessment? about which some are saying congress, we need something along that line? pulled comment from a policy point of view, whether you feel like there is an additional challenge that needs to be tapped to carry out the ultimate missions of the inspector general. and i'd also
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like to know how much of that, prison funs, federal prison funds, go to mental illness. and those who are mentally ill. >> i'll answer the last first. on our website is a report about the challenge of mental health. go to our website, you'll see it there. we did an extensive report. and last year, ten generals, it was an award for the report. we'll have a direct impact on the handling of its care. you can see the issue. right there. on the work with the others, i'll speak briefly on gao. because i work with them both briefly.
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tremendous working relation. they do tremendous work. we meat has regular weekly with them in my shop quarterly to make sure we are aware of what each other is doing. we are not interfering in each other's work and complementing it. that relationship is very strong. they do very important work. they are within the legislative branch. we are making sure that we are covering the areas that need to be covered and sharing findings with each other. again, if you look at our report, we are making sure that the gao -- making sure the leader is aware of that.
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>> the office of technology assessment went by the boards a number of years ago. is there a need this year to beef up with another, if you will, bureaucracy or different way of dividing labor? >> just a total personal opinion which is all i ever do anyway. there have been times when all of a sudden it seemed like what congress was doing -- when they felt there needed to be more oversight was they created another ig. and sometimes the inspector general, the jurisdiction would cross into other jurisdictions. looking at afghanistan with iraq. it would be in the same arena. they did tremendous work. but i think if there is somebody already covering it,
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personally, it is very difficult to set up another bureaucracy. it is a lot of work and a lot of expense. if i were running the world, i would give gao and the inspector general a lot more money. i know there is not a lot of money to be had. but i think that is a better use of money than creating something else, if there is already somebody in that space. the one thing i would note -- and this is slightly anecdotal -- but congress itself, i think has less of a capacity to do the oversight. they have a very crucial oversight as well. not just under gao but the committees. my understanding and my experience has been that there have been a lot of reductions in money going to that as well. i think that is a big loss as well. because they have a crucial role and there is plenty to be done. and again, i would rather the money goes to the executive branch. i think that is another place where it would be great to see
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resources again. >> do we have other questions? >> my name is ann goldstein with the international association of women judges. mr. levinson, i remember reading a few weeks ago and i just pulled up about a report from your office and i see it has your name on it about the detention facility for teenagers in texas. and the massive problems there. i just read that six weeks later, it was shut down. my question for you is this. apparently, part of the reason they were stranded is because the administration was insisting that family members wanted them to be fingerprinted after issuing a waiver that the staff of 2100 people needed neither fingerprinting nor
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child-abuse or neglect screenings. i'm wondering if your office or any other ig is auditing other detention facilities because there are -- there are 11th 400 children detain. would it help if citizens asked for such an audit? >> as a matter of record, every report issued by our office -- -- i don't necessarily have personal information. i certainly would encourage for them to get in touch with our office certainly with congress for whatever follow-up might be appropriate following our report. and speaking today, not being familiar with the report that you saw, i don't know what
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follow-up will be done necessarily by our office. >> my name is rob burns. i am, among other things, a former federal employee. my question relates to something mentioned in passing -- whistleblower. each of your departments has -- not just hundreds of thousands of employees but in some cases, millions of employees. so not only your department but more broadly speaking, what your confidence level is, in the quantity and quality of the complaints -- whistleblower -- the reason i asked the question is, i would find it difficult to believe that a significant percentage of federal workers -- over the
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course of their daily work, are not well aware of ongoing violations -- whether they are financial, personnel, harassment, et cetera. and then of course, there are sensitive areas. prison, criminal justice programs at the pentagon. there are all sorts of things. to you, is this a significant percentage of your work? you have confidence that federal employees know that they can reach out to you because the supervisor and the supervisor's supervisor -- and nobody at the management chain is doing the things. >> whistleblowers are key to the work and often bring very important cases to us. we do publicize a hotline in
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the work we do, to follow-up on whistleblower tips and make sure that they get the certainty they need. we also make clear that whistleblowers should not be reprised against for the disclosures. that is a key issue that we also investigate. we investigate many significant cases of where whistleblower comes forward and gets reprised against. we do have a hotline. we get 15,000 tips. we can't dismiss any of them. we have to look at them carefully. that is the key to the challenge. sometimes whistleblowers will come forward when they are being accused of doing something wrong. and the respondent -- the response will be, they are just disgruntled employees. even if they are disgruntled come they may have a key piece of evidence -- we have to take it seriously and we do take it seriously. that is one of the key ways that we get information to uncover. we take them seriously and we
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want to continue to do that. >> we get 10,000 complaints with similar issues. is very important for us to get the message out on how porten it is for whistleblowers to come forward. i will mention what you just said which is -- there are a lot of people that know a lot about what is going on at the justice department. there are 100,000 plus people and they really know what is going on. they are working -- certain law enforcement, you don't want to be working next to somebody who has a problem or an issue, right. it is a huge risk to yourself, not just the organization. so you are trying to get that message out. there are videos on our website. you will see whistleblower information. we had the deputy attorney general participate in those and put out a message so that
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they know they should be comfortable coming to us. we take retaliation seriously. we do that work. it is a very important area for us. again, for the ig community, we started a group that brings together all the whistleblower leaders across the community and learning a lot from each other. >> it is very important not only within our department -- but we consider it a very important source of information and being able to correct problems. it is vital as well outside of the department and countless healthcare institutions around this country. whistleblowing is a very critical element for being able to ensure integrity and thousands of healthcare institutions. >> thank you so much everybody. this is the end of the panel. you can find more in the
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session afterwards and have follow-up questions if you did not have a chance to ask your question here. thank you for coming. [ applause ] >> what is ahead tonight, first a house hearing on u.s. military operations in the asia- pacific. then healthcare advisers and insurance commissioners talk about approaches to eliminate surprise out of network medical bills there later, we hear a number of house and senate lawmakers speaking at the recent american israel public affairs committee conference known as apac.
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>> c-span washington journal live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up thursday morning, republican congressman carter of georgia discusses the future of the affordable care act and climate change. and sheila jackson lee, democratic congresswoman from texas, talks about the efforts to reauthorize the violence against women act. be sure to watch c-span's washington journal live at 7:00 eastern thursday morning. join the discussion. >> former live coverage in the morning with the confirmation hearing for interior secretary nominee dave and bernhardt. mr. bernhardt has been acting secretary of the interior department since january following the resignation of ryan zinke. that is lived before the senate energy and natural resources committee at 10:00 a.m. eastern here on c-span three. also president trump holds a


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