What does the OIG have in store for exclusion screening over the course of the next fiscal year? Plenty. Here’s a brief quote to chew over – the description of an enhanced watchdog program, brand new for 2015:
Prevent grant awards to individuals and entities who were suspended and/or debarred
We will determine whether HHS operating divisions are taking adequate precautions to ensure that individuals and entities suspended or debarred are not awarded Federal grants or contracts. To protect the Government’s interests, Federal agencies are required to make awards only to responsible sources—those that are determined to be reliable, dependable, and capable of performing required work. One way to protect the Government’s interests is through suspensions and debarments, which are actions taken to preclude firms or individuals from receiving contracts or assistance because of various types of misconduct. A suspension is a temporary exclusion typically pending the completion of an investigation or legal proceeding, while a debarment is for a fixed term that depends on the seriousness of the cause, but generally is for a period of 3 years. These exclusions are reported in the System for Award Management (SAM), maintained by the General Services Administration, along with violations of certain statutes and regulations. A previous report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that some agency programs need greater attention, and governmentwide oversight could be improved. (OAS; W-00-15-59024; expected issue date: FY 2015)
What that means is that an employer can be subject to additional, intensive scrutiny, simply because he or one of his constituents was included in a grant proposal. This program is being put into place for the first time in 2015, in addition to the OIG’s already-existing watchdog methods…which have made life complicated enough already.
Tougher? We think so.
On an individual level, the OIG has upped its levels of excluded individuals significantly over the course of the past two years. Of approximately 60,000 excluded individuals, more than 6% were added to the exclusion list during this past year. And the numbers of newly-excluded individuals just keep going up.
So, is the crackdown on excluded individuals getting worse? Sure.
Should employers be worried about it? Well, that all depends on what kind of steps they’ve taken to make sure that they’re always protected.