It was 10 years ago last week that the United States Senate confirmed Patrick P. O’Carroll, Jr. as Social Security’s 3rd Inspector General, after he was appointed by then-President George W. Bush.
“I’m honored to have served as Inspector General for 10 years, and I have many, many people to thank for helping make the OIG the outstanding organization it has become,” O’Carroll said. “An organization is only as strong as its people, and I’m grateful to have collaborated with so many who have shared my commitment to the OIG mission.”
Since assuming his role, the Inspector General has intensified efforts to prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse in SSA’s programs through innovative and collaborative approaches, with a consistent focus on independent, objective oversight that has as its ultimate goal the integrity of Social Security’s programs, and the effectiveness of its operations.
Since his appointment, the Inspector General has led efforts to expand the highly-successful Cooperative Disability Investigations (CDI) program from 17 to 27 units across the country, significantly increasing our ability to screen questionable disability claims for fraud. CDI efforts in fiscal year 2014 led to about 4,100 cases in which a potentially fraudulent disability claim was denied or benefits were stopped. The Inspector General has also promoted the use of computer forensic analysis in support of our criminal investigators, providing valuable evidence to aid in bringing offenders to justice in the digital age. Mr. O’Carroll is now committed to expanding our use of cost-effective, innovative investigative tools such as predictive analytics and electronic intelligence to identify fraud trends and schemes before a significant fraud loss even occurs.
On the audit side, the Inspector General has cultivated experienced and effective audit teams, who are well-versed in Social Security’s complex programs, systems, and regulations. In FY 2014, the OIG’s auditors issued 84 reports with recommendations identifying more than $5 billion in Federal funds that could be put to better use, and over $1 billion in questioned costs. Our auditors have a long track record of providing accurate and timely information to the U.S. Congress for its use in overseeing Social Security. And, as we shared with you last month, the inspector general community recently recognized our auditors for their work related to SSA’s death data, which led to new Federal legislation on this issue.
Mr. O’Carroll has worked to improve our Counsel office’s ability to enforce Section 1129 of the Social Security Act, imposing civil penalties against people who lied to Social Security and received money they weren’t due. In FY 2004, we imposed $523,234 in penalties; in FY 2014, we imposed $21,200,916. Also during the Inspector General’s tenure, our attorneys began working with major Internet and credit card companies to shut down misleading websites, mobile apps, and other communications that pretend to be affiliated with Social Security to trick people into buying services or providing their personal information.
Finally, the Inspector General has embraced and supported the OIG’s commitment to transparency and accountability, through communications enhancements such as this website and the launch of the OIG’s social media accounts. In recent years, we’ve been able to easily connect with our stakeholders, share our accomplishments, and even respond appropriately to a media-driven controversy.
Over the last 10 years, we have achieved our mission and met our goals, but the one accomplishment that truly stands out is that we have served the most vulnerable of America’s citizens, and we have served the dedicated Social Security employees who work across the country to provide benefits and services to those who deserve them. Under the Inspector General’s leadership, we will continue working to improve and protect Social Security’s programs for all Americans.