[Excerpt] I am pleased to submit this Semiannual Report to the Congress, which summarizes the significant activities and accomplishments of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the six- month period ending March 31, 2006. During this reporting period, our investigative work led to 227 indictments, 233 convictions, and over $43 million in monetary accomplishments. In addition, we issued 57 audit reports and questioned $6.8 million in costs.
During this period, the OIG provided audit and investigative oversight of the Department of Labor’s response to Hurricane Katrina. As part of this effort, we issued seven management letters recommending that the Employment and Training Administration address issues we identified through reviews of unemployment insurance claims and National Emergency Grant activities in the affected states. Moreover, this Office joined the Hurricane Katrina Task Force created by the U.S. Attorney General, which seeks to address fraud associated with the Government response to the hurricane. Our work was also coordinated with member agencies of the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency.
The OIG continued to combat fraud and abuse in the Department’s foreign labor certification program which provides employers access to foreign labor. A notable OIG achievement was the prosecution of a business owner who had submitted over 1,400 fraudulent foreign labor certifications which netted him over $4.5 million. The defendant was sentenced to 44 months in prison and three years probation.
We have had great success in combating corruption involving monies in union-sponsored benefit plans. One investigation led to the sentencing of an individual who had embezzled from his employees’ benefit plans, resulting in nearly $1 million in unpaid medical claims. The defendant was sentenced to 90 months in prison and three years’ probation.
From an audit perspective, the OIG made significant recommendations to address vulnerabilities we identified in DOL programs and operations. For example, we conducted an audit relating to a settlement agreement that the Wage and Hour Division made with Wal-Mart, which disclosed serious breakdowns in the process for developing, negotiating, and approving settlement agreements. This resulted in giving concessions to Wal-Mart in exchange for little commitment from the employer beyond what it was already doing or required to do by law. As a result of our audit, a new policy was issued surrounding the settlement negotiation process.
In addition, the OIG issued a 9th unqualified opinion on the Department’s financial statements. While the opinion reflects our conclusion that DOL’s financial statements were fairly presented, we did identify a number of weaknesses and made recommendations for corrective actions.
The OIG remains committed to promoting the economy, integrity, effectiveness, and efficiency of DOL programs and detecting waste, fraud, and abuse against those programs. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to a professional and dedicated OIG staff for their significant during this reporting period.