Taylor Teams with State Senate to Unveil Anti-Fraud Bill

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Columbus -

Auditor of State Mary Taylor today joined Senator Mark Wagoner (R-Toledo) to unveil legislation aimed at exposing government fraud, waste and abuse at its earliest stages.  The legislation, SB 7, was introduced in the Ohio Senate today.

“I am pleased Senator Mark Wagoner introduced this very important bill to enhance our efforts to hold state and local government accountable for how it spends tax dollars,” Taylor said.  “This legislation builds upon a fraud reporting system we already have in place at the Auditor of State’s office and expands our public awareness campaign to every citizen and government employee in Ohio.  The high costs associated with fraud and corruption in the public sector are significant and this bill will empower government employees to get involved in rooting out fraud waste and abuse.”

Wagoner supports the need for legislative action.

“At a time when Ohio’s economy is struggling, we must be prudent with our resources and ensure that public officials honor their responsibility and duty of being good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” Wagoner said. “This legislation will add a much-needed layer of government transparency and empower all Ohioans to step up and put a stop to known or suspected corruption in government, while also helping to ensure that we guard against those who would use their positions of authority to abuse the public’s trust.”

Although not presently required by law, the Auditor of State already maintains a Fraud Hotline to report the misuse or abuse of public funds.  The new legislation would strengthen this by codifying the Ohio Fraud Reporting System in law, requiring that all public employees be made aware of the Ohio Fraud Reporting System and extending whistleblower protection to those who report allegations of fraud using the fraud reporting system.

In addition, the Auditor of State, in the course of an audit, will confirm that all public entities are taking steps to make employees aware of the Ohio Fraud Reporting System.  

Public awareness of anti-fraud resources in the Auditor of State’s office is an important part of protecting government funds. According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners 2008 Report to the Nation on Occupational Fraud & Abuse, more than 50 percent of all government fraud is detected by tips to authorities. The report also found that the average cost of government fraud decreases significantly for organizations maintaining an anonymous fraud hotline. Entities with a fraud hotline suffered a median loss of $100,000 per case compared to $250,000 per incident for organizations without a fraud hotline.