OIG Annual Report 2019: Hotlines

Part III of the Office of the Inspector General's 2019 Annual Report

Download the PDF version of the full OIG 2019 annual report.

Table of Contents

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I. Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotlines

"Frauds are more likely to be detected when a hotline is in place." (2018 Report to the Nations, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners)

The Office is committed to ensuring that individuals can confidentially report suspected wrongdoing in the use of public funds or assets. Individuals therefore can report suspected misconduct to the Office in person or by telephone, U.S. mail, email, through the Office’s online form or facsimile (collectively, “hotlines”). All complaints to the Office’s hotlines are treated confidentially, and individuals can choose to submit a complaint anonymously.

The Office evaluates each complaint to determine whether it falls within the Office’s jurisdiction and whether it warrants action. Some complaints lead to extensive investigations, some are referred to other agencies and others are closed if a preliminary inquiry fails to substantiate the allegations.

While not all complaints result in an investigation or review, many uncover wrongdoing, such as:

  • Corruption
  • Theft
  • Time fraud
  • Favoritism in selecting contractors
  • Mismanagement or wasteful spending

Complaints made to the Office’s hotlines also result in improvements in how government agencies operate. Complaints often lead to cost recoveries and civil settlements as well.

The Audit, Oversight and Investigations Division (“Division”) operates the Office’s main fraud hotline in collaboration with other divisions in the Office. In this role, the Division carefully reviews and evaluates all complaints it receives.

The Internal Special Audit Unit (“ISAU”) maintains a hotline for members of the public to report suspected fraud, waste or abuse related to public transportation programs and the misuse of transportation funds. The hotline is available online through the Office, as well as on the MassDOT and the MBTA’s websites. The ISAU also maintains an employee hotline on MassDOT’s intranet and monitors the RMV’s disability parking placard hotline.

The Office received 6,985 hotline complaints between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2019. The volume of complaints has grown by 134% in seven years. In 2019 alone, the Office received and responded to 1,380 complaints. The main fraud hotline received 1,173 complaints while the ISAU hotlines received 207 complaints.

Fraud Complaints: Top Five Hotline Topics Number of Complaints
1. Scams 191
2. Benefit Fraud 189
3. Embezzlement/Theft/Misuse of Public Funds 96
4. Healthcare 68
5. Local Government Issues 67


OIG fraud hotline complaints by calendar year (2019)
Fraud hotline complaints by month (2019)

II. Chapter 30B Hotline

Education is critical to improving government and safeguarding public assets. Consequently, the Office has established a hotline to respond to questions and complaints concerning public procurements and the Uniform Procurement Act, M.G.L. c. 30B (“Chapter 30B”). Through the hotline, the Office helps municipalities comply with state bidding laws and conduct fair, open and competitive procurements.

Calls to the hotline also lead public entities to rebid contracts, strengthen procurement procedures, institute internal controls and implement other process improvements. In 2019, the Office responded to 1,418 inquiries and questions about Chapter 30B, public construction biding laws, local purchasing requirements, fraud prevention and internal controls.

Chapter 30B assistance hotline calls by calendar year 2019
Chapter 30B hotline calls by month 2019
Chapter 30B Calls: Top Five Hotline Topics Number of Calls
1. Chapter 30B applicability (i.e., whether Chapter 30B applies to a specific purchase) 184
2. Acquisition and disposition of real property 103
3. Disposition of surplus supplies 31
4. Cooperative purchasing 30
5. Advertising bids and proposals 27
Date published: April 30, 2020
Image credits:  Shutterstock

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