Group questions drop in defense fraud cases

Despite a boom in defense contracting under the Bush administration, the number of fraud and corruption cases initiated by government investigators dropped substantially when compared with the preceding administration, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

In a report released April 1, the nonprofit organization said that during the Bush administration, Defense Department investigators sent 76 percent fewer corruption cases to the Justice Department for potential criminal prosecution than investigators did during the Clinton administration.

That decrease occurred as DOD contracting doubled from $200 billion at the beginning of the Clinton administration in fiscal 1993 to more than $400 billion at the end of the Bush administration in fiscal 2008, the report states. The center based its findings on an analysis of Justice Department data.

Similarly, the FBI sent prosecutors 55 percent fewer fraud and corruption cases involving governmentwide contracting in the same period, center officials said.

The dramatic drop in potential prosecutions is a result of numerous factors, including regulatory and legislative changes, shifting priorities, and declining manpower and expertise, they added.

Last month, President Barack Obama expressed concerns about fraud and abuse in defense and other contracts, and Congress has started  two efforts to scrutinize defense contracting, center officials said.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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