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Taylor and Legislative Partners Unveil Anti-Fraud Bill
Auditor of State Mary Taylor today joined state lawmakers to unveil legislation aimed at exposing government fraud, waste and abuse at its earliest stages. Senate Bill 375 is sponsored by Senator Mark Wagoner (R-Toledo) and its companion bill, House Bill 634, is sponsored by Representative Ross McGregor (R-Springfield).
“My office is working hard to increase public awareness about our fraud reporting system as a way for Ohioans to help us hold government accountable,” Taylor said. “This legislation is an important step forward in our fight against government fraud. I am pleased to work with Senator Mark Wagoner, Representative Ross McGregor and the entire legislature in this important effort to protect taxpayers from the high costs of government fraud and corruption.”
The legislation requires the Auditor of State to maintain a system for reporting fraud. The Ohio Fraud Reporting System provides citizens and public employees with several ways to anonymously report allegations of fraud, abuse or misuse of taxpayer funds. Individuals can anonymously call the Auditor of State’s Fraud Hotline at 866-FRAUD-OH (866-372-8364), complete an online complaint form located at www.fraudohio.com or submit their concerns via the U.S. mail to Ohio Auditor of State Mary Taylor - Special Investigations Unit - 88 E. Broad St. - Columbus, OH 43215.
Although not presently required by law, the Auditor of State provides 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, require enhanced fraud awareness efforts for public employees and enhance whistleblower protection to government employees who report suspicions of fraud.
The legislation requires public entities, both state and local, to provide all new employees with information regarding the Ohio Fraud Reporting System. 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. Also, SB 375 and HB 634 will offer another layer of protection, under the Ohio Whistleblower Protection Act, to government employees who anonymously report the misuse of public resources with a tip to the toll-free hotline (866-FRAUD-OH), on the Auditor of State’s Web site (www.fraudohio.com) or through the mail.
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.
The Ohio Auditor of State’s Office is one of the largest accounting offices in the nation. The office strives to ensure that all public funds are spent legally and appropriately and works aggressively to root out fraud, waste and abuse in public spending. Taylor encourages anyone suspecting fraud or misspending of public dollars to contact her office toll free at 1-866-FRAUD-OH (1-866-372-8364). Since taking office in January 2007, Taylor has identified more than $16.6 million in public funds that were spent illegally and must be repaid.