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Recovery Operations Center Assists in Tracking Down Fraudsters

The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (the Board) launched the Recovery Operations Center (ROC) in November 2009 to provide a central data analytics service to support fraud detection and prevention related to ARRA awards.  In 2012, under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012, the Board's authority was expanded to include oversight of all federal funding.  Under the Disaster Appropriations Act of 2013, the Board was mandated by Congress to use its resources to provide oversight of Hurricane Sandy funding.

In order to support the oversight communities in their efforts to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse, the ROC uses traditional law enforcement analytics combined with sophisticated software tools and more than 30 government, commercial, and open-source data sets, which allow its highly trained analysts to:

  • Establish links between individuals and organizations
  • Identify patterns and geographic hotspots to focus on high-risk geographic areas
  • Review, aggregate, and analyze large, complex volumes of structured and unstructured data to screen for potential risks or identify specific targets.
Provide detailed analytics services in support of preventative activities, audits, investigations, prosecutions
The analysts are able to search massive amounts of data to look for criminal convictions, lawsuits, tax liens, bankruptcies, suspicious financial transactions, suspension and debarment proceedings, and other factors that might indicate potential fraud.
Some of the work performed by the ROC has included:
  • A successful 30 day fraud pilot project for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that resulted in solid investigative leads of ARRA recipients involved in Medicare and Medicaid fraud schemes.
  • The Social Security Administration provided the ROC with 20,000 records of attempted benefit redirections. The analysts synthesized the information and identified persons of interest who were focal points for the redirected benefits operations and linked many of the operations to each other. The data aided in interviews, multiple arrests, and continued investigations into the networks associated with the fraud.
  • The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) submitted 104 entities receiving Hurricane Sandy debris removal contracts totaling $329 million from 32 cities in New York and New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy.  Findings submitted to DHS OIG included identification of: 
    • Debris removal firms whose owners had federal and state tax liens; 
    • Firms previously listed on the Excluded Party List, indicating potential financial problems;
    • Two contracting companies that had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in December 2010 and also had federal tax liens totaling more than $1 million since 2011; and
    • Organizations with previously documented fraudulent activities receiving debris removal contracts from cities where there was an indication the CEOs had social ties with city officials.

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