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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 75 · No. 4 > Internet Watch

January/February 2012
Vol. 75 · No. 4

Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-12-002

Internet Watch

by Alicia Sindlinger

USDOT Office of Inspector General's Home on the Web

The U.S. Department of Transportation's (USDOT) Office of Inspector General (OIG) was established by law in 1978 to provide the Secretary of Transportation and Congress with independent and objective reviews of the efficiency and effectiveness of the department's operations and programs. The OIG's staff of 400-plus employees supports USDOT's priorities of transportation safety and effective program delivery and performance. The office also is tasked with detecting and preventing fraud, waste, and abuse.

To help back the OIG's work, the office maintains a Web site, accessible at www.oig.dot.gov. The site contains a wealth of information about the office, its areas of oversight, and the processes it uses to complete audits and investigations. In addition to disseminating this information, the site also functions as a link to the OIG's Hotline, where USDOT employees, contractors, and the public can report allegations of fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement in USDOT programs or operations.

According to OIG officials, the Web site is a key tool in its communications toolkit for keeping the Secretary, Congress, and taxpayers informed because the site is readily accessible to everyone. The site is a place for people to learn about the OIG, stay informed on the outcomes of audits and investigations, and report allegations of fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement. A redesign in 2010 made the site more user-friendly.

Finding Information on OIG's Activities

The main functions of the site are to inform stakeholders and raise public awareness of the office's activities. From the home page, visitors have one-click access to information on audits, investigations, and congressional testimonies. The information found in these sections details the processes that OIG staff members follow to conduct their audits and investigations, and summarizes specific audits, investigations, and testimonies. The home page also provides links to the office's email subscription service, Twitter account, and Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds for visitors to sign up to receive updates on a regular basis.

From the site's right navigation bar, visitors also can access descriptions of and information about the office's activities in each of the areas that it oversees. Oversight areas include management and financial, aviation, highways, maritime, pipelines and hazardous materials, railroads and transit, and criminal investigations. Each area expands with subcategories that house summaries from audits and investigations in that particular subcategory. For example, under "Highways" users will find the following subcategories: "Highway & Vehicle Safety," "Highways," and "Motor Carrier Safety."

According to OIG officials, the Web site provides invaluable support in helping to meet their obligations to Congress and taxpayers.

Reporting Fraud, Abuse, and Waste

The OIG Hotline Complaint Center, also accessible from the Web site's home page, is an important function of the site. The online form facilitates reporting alleged fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement within the department or its programs. Individuals -- both internal and external to the department -- seeking to report information to the hotline also can call 1-800-424-9071, email hotline@oig.dot.gov, or mail a letter to USDOT Inspector General, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, West Building, 7th Floor, Washington, DC, 20590.

Typical types of fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement include the following: contract, procurement, and grant fraud; environment, health, and safety violations; computer crimes; product substitution and counterfeit parts; bribery, kickbacks, and gratuities; false statements and false claims; conflicts of interest and ethics violations; travel fraud; theft or abuse of government property; stimulus abuse such as American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 violations; and violations of criminal law or the Civil False Claims Act in connection with a Federal contract.

Upon receipt of a specific report, the OIG may open an investigation or audit, refer the matter to USDOT management for appropriate review and action, or refer the allegation to another Federal agency. The hotline operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For more information, visit www.oig.dot.gov.

Screen capture of the home page of the USDOT OIG Web site.

 


Alicia Sindlinger is a contributing editor for Public Roads.

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