State hotline rooting out waste, fraud

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Sen. Judy Robson
Thursday, July 8, 2010

Two years ago, the Legislature created a hotline for citizens to report suspected waste, fraud and mismanagement by state government.

The toll-free hotline is 1-877-FRAUD-17. Reports can also be made at legis.wisconsin.gov/LAB by clicking on the “Fraud Hotline” link.

Reports of suspected fraud or waste can be made anonymously, but the Audit Bureau encourages people to leave their names and contact information for follow-up purposes. State law requires the Audit Bureau to protect the identity of people making reports of alleged waste and fraud.

During its two years of operation, the hotline has led to improvements in how state agencies and UW campuses operate. Here are some examples:

Highway construction: In May 2008, a caller questioned whether the Department of Transportation was ensuring that contractors consistently met concrete thickness specifications. When the same complaint was raised in 2004, the DOT referred it to the Department of Justice, which investigated but took no action.

Legislative auditors determined that better quality-assurance safeguards were needed. In May 2009, the Audit Bureau issued recommendations. The Joint Audit Committee held two hearings so legislators could question DOT administrators about how they monitor contract work and how they are implementing the auditors recommendations. The Audit Bureau continues to monitor DOT’s progress in improving its quality-assurance program.

Technical colleges: In October 2009, a caller reported that Madison Area Technical College, now known as Madison College, did not follow the competitive bid process when hiring a consultant. The caller further alleged that the contract costs were far exceeding expectations.

A review found that the contract for the consultant initially followed the proper bid process, but an additional $1.7 million in serial contracts with a single consultant did not. As a result of the review, Madison College terminated its contracts with the consultant.

UW camps and clinics: In April 2008, a caller reported that a faculty member at a UW campus was running an unauthorized sports camp on campus and was personally benefiting from it. A review determined that the camp was not properly authorized and the campus was not reimbursed for use of its facilities.

The UW System’s audit office conducted a broader review of all camps and clinics on UW campuses and made recommendations for better oversight.

Unnecessary overtime: In June 2008, a caller reported that a Department of Health Services employee was working an unnecessary amount of overtime and earning $20,000 in overtime pay. A review prompted DHS to better monitor the employee’s overtime hours. As a result, the employee’s overtime hours dropped from 500 hours in 2008 to 60 in 2009.
Tax fraud: Several callers reported individuals or businesses underreporting taxable income or other tax fraud. The Audit Bureau referred 13 reports to the Department of Revenue in 2009.

The Department of Revenue subsequently created a tax-fraud reporting form. You can find it at revenue.wi.gov/faqs/ise/fraud.html.

Fraud reporting hotlines—and the whistleblowers who call them—help government root out fraud, waste and mismanagement.

Sen. Judy Robson represents most of Rock County and the Whitewater area. She can be reached toll-free at 1-800-334-1468, by e-mail at Sen.Robson@legis.wi.gov, and by mail at P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882.

Last updated: 2:25 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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