[Excerpt] I am pleased to submit this Semiannual Report to Congress, which highlights the most significant activities and accomplishments of the Department of Labor (DOL), Office of Inspector General (OIG), for the six-month period ending March 31, 2009. During this reporting period, our investigative work led to 228 indictments, 238 convictions, and $79.3 million in monetary accomplishments. In addition, we issued 30 audit and other reports and questioned $14.7 million in costs. OIG audits and investigations continue to assess the effectiveness, efficiency, economy, and integrity of DOL’s programs and operations, including those performed by its contractors and grantees. We also continue to investigate labor racketeering and/or organized crime influence against unions, employee benefit plans, and workers.
Highlights of this report include:
An audit of Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) Enhanced Enforcement Program, which targets employers who willfully disregard their statutory workplace safety obligations, found that OSHAfailed to properly identify and inspect related worksites. Proper application of enhanced enforcement may have deterred or abated hazards at worksites of 45 employers where 58 subsequent fatalities occurred.
The OIG also found that although the Department’s claims decisions under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act complied with the law, it may take two years or more to process claims. It is critical that DOL provide timely, uniform, and adequate compensation to civilian men and women suffering from cancer and other illnesses incurred as a result of their work in the nuclear weapons production and testing programs.
An OIG audit found that the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) could not effectively measure outcomes of its civil enforcement projects or demonstrate that it allocated civil enforcement resources to areas of highest impact. As a result, EBSA could not determine whether these projects were increasing compliance with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
The OIG also continues to safeguard the integrity of Foreign Labor Certification programs. In a recent case, a former Immigration and Customs Enforcement official and his wife were indicted for allegedly scheming to use companies to falsely petition for employment-based visas for between $16,000 and $20,000 per petition.
A recent program fraud investigation involving the Workforce Investment Act and H-1B Technical Grant funds uncovered a conspiracy to fraudulently pay about $1.8 million in excessive salaries and bonuses to executives of a now defunct training consortium. Sentences for those involved ranged up to 84 months’ imprisonment and restitution totaled $2.6 million.
Our labor racketeering focus includes combating corruption involving the monies in union- sponsored benefit plans. In a recent investigation, six defendants pled guilty in connection with a $5 million scheme that involved submitting fraudulent medical claims to more than 25 different union- sponsored health and welfare funds and insurance companies. This type of fraud translates into higher premiums and reduced coverage for consumers, as well as increased costs to employers.
With the significant investments and outlays under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the OIG will be focused in the upcoming six-month period on meeting our oversight responsibilities relating to DOL plans and stimulus expenditures.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the professional and dedicated staff of the OIG for their significant achievements during this reporting period. We will continue to work constructively with the Secretary of Labor and DOL managers to ensure that the rights and benefits of American workers and retirees are safeguarded.