Earl Devaney, chairman of the Recovery, Accountability and Transparency Board, told a Senate panel Aug. 3 that he thought he'd "probably see" more than 350 criminal referrals related to the use of federal stimulus funds. (Tom Brown / Staff file photo)
Law enforcement authorities have made more than 350 criminal referrals related to the use of federal stimulus funds and indictments could come within the next six months, Earl Devaney, chairman of the Recovery, Accountability and Transparency Board, told a Senate panel Tuesday.
"An additional 100 have been looked at and prosecution has been declined," Devaney said in response to questions from the panel's top Republican, Sen. John McCain of Arizona. When McCain asked why there have been no significant prosecutions some 18 months after the $787 billion stimulus legislation was passed, Devaney said that criminal cases normally follow a two-year cycle.
"It's an incredible amount of money, so I quite frankly didn't know what to expect," Devaney said in a follow-up interview when asked about the number of criminal cases. "But I thought by now we'd probably see more than that."
Besides Devaney, the board includes a dozen inspectors general from various federal departments.
The Senate subcommittee on federal financial management examined the recovery board's use of data-mining and other mechanisms to head off waste, fraud and abuse. Overall, the rate of errors and other problems is much lower than would have been expected in such a large program, said Danny Werfel, who oversees federal financial management for the Office of Management and Budget and who testified alongside Devaney.
In one case, a federal agency revoked a $1 million award to a company after the board discovered that the recipient was ineligible under federal guidelines, Devaney said in his prepared testimony. In another case, more than $7 million worth of contracts were cancelled after a staff analysis showed that the receiving firm had been debarred, he said.