Smartphones and Facebook are the new best friends of the inspector general community. Patrick O’Carroll, inspector general of the Social Security Administration, shares some of his agency’s top priorities for this year with Federal News Radio’s Sean McCalley. He says telework is near the top of the list and the recent polar vortex is exactly why.
1. Telework and Mobile Work – Telework continues to grow both within our organization and across government. 2014 will see additional expansion and, in particular, focus on mobile technology that is fast, reliable, and secure. In our organization, we deal not only with traditional telework issues, but the need to connect from anywhere. Our auditors and investigators do much of their work from remote locations, whether they’re investigating a fraud case or auditing an organizational payee for Social Security beneficiaries in their care. We’ve made great strides in traditional telework and many of our employees work multiple days a week from home (and that will continue to expand), but we need still more flexibility to allow for our professionals to connect from the road without delays and without compromising the sensitive information they need to transmit.
2. Electronic Intelligence – Using technology in criminal investigations and audits is nothing new, but it continues to grow in leaps and bounds, and 2014 will bring more of the same. So much information is available online, taking full advantage of it is both cost-effective and results-driven. From using social media to detect disability beneficiaries who aren’t really disabled to using commercial databases to detect hidden assets, we continue to find new and innovative ways to use technology to detect fraud and improve program integrity.
3. Prevention – The President’s call to prevent improper payments, rather than chase after them, was a wake-up call to many, but not to us. We’ve been focused on prevention since the late ’90s, but the recent government emphasis on front-end prevention is well-conceived, and will continue to grow (and the electronic intelligence I’ve already discussed is a big part of that). Our Cooperative Disability Investigations program is one of the best examples of prevention in government, and coupled with our new Disability Fraud Pilot, is at the heart of our fraud prevention work. In 2014, we hope to find ways to expand these efforts, to stop even more fraud before it starts.
The Army could shrink to as small at 420,000 soldiers by 2019. That plan includes deactivating 10 Brigade Combat Teams and reorganizing the remaining BCTs. But the way the Army cuts could be more important than the cuts themselves.
Wednesday is Congress’ deadline to do something about the expiring budget appropriations agencies are working under today. But getting to a deal to finish a budget for fiscal 2014 isn’t quite as simple as we thought it might be.