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Investigations of Public Fraud and Corruption: Lessons and Legacies of a United States Procurement Scandal

NCJ Number
Police Studies Volume: 14 Issue: 1 Dated: (Spring 1991) Pages: 3-11
F M Kaiser; S Smith
Date Published
9 pages
An investigation into procurement and contracting practices followed by some officials of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) revealed abuses that were substantial, widespread, long-standing, and protracted. The organizational and procedural defects that were revealed, including the absence of internal audit and investigative operations, policies which failed to protect whistleblowers, and ineffective cost-control and quality-control mechanisms, prompted GSA, congressional, and Presidential involvement in reforms.
Despite early internal restructurings and reforms, President Jimmy Carter came to use the scandals at GSA as the impetus for a government-wide fight against waste, fraud, and corruption featuring a focus on white-collar crime, increased attention to suspected government fraud by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and increased staff to conduct internal investigations in certain agencies. In the case of GSA, the FBI, Justice Department, Internal Revenue Service, and U.S. Postal Service each conducted their own investigations. In addition, Senate and House Committees held extensive hearings on misconduct within GSA. GSA was one of seven Federal agencies reviewed by the General Accounting Office in an examination of government fraud. As a result, GAO established a telephone hotline to receive allegations of government corruption and created a special task force to assess the adequacy of management control systems in Federal agencies. These measures have been largely successful in ending the GSA scandal and preventing similar occurrences. 1 note and 45 references (Author abstract modified)