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Newsroom :: Waste Watch  - WASTE WATCH: Grant Review Team to Investigate Fraud, Abuse in State Grants

WASTE WATCH: Grant Review Team to Investigate Fraud, Abuse in State Grants


 By the end of this budget year, more people are expected to report allegations of fraud and waste of government programs to Illinois' Inspector General than ever before.

Now, the office has a new initiative to make sure your tax dollars are getting into the right hands. Officials say it will easily save millions because there are opportunities for fraud everywhere.

Hundreds of millions of dollars in grants, maybe even billions, is used by state departments, and grantees through those departments, to help support programs and services for people who need it most. But not all of that money ends up where it should.

"It's very frustrating because you're seeing money that could be spent for their intended purposes going into, in some cases, fraudulent purposes so that money is never getting to the intended recipient of the money," Don Meeks said.

Meeks is one of six investigators on a new Grant Review Initiative Team--or "GRIT"--through the Office of the Illinois Inspector General.
They'll look into allegations of waste, fraud and abuse in state grants. They'll also focus on the oversight of state grants by state agencies.

"It's important particularly with our state's fiscal crisis that these are funds going to worthwhile purposes - kids, education, health services, for improvement of communities - are used for purposes they were intended," Deputy Inspector General Neil Olson said. "We want to make sure people know we're watching, they're doing their jobs, and the funds are going to the right places."

How much could this initiative save? Olson says it's hard to estimate, but right now in the few cases under investigation, grant money totals more than $120 million.

However, the amount of money dispersed by state agencies is much greater.

"If even 1 percent of that is not going for its proper purpose, you're talking in excess of a million dollars and I suspect it's higher than that," Olson said.

Some investigations take a month or two. Others that are more complex may take much longer.

WASTE WATCH: Grant Review Team to Investigate Fraud, Abuse in State Grants

Wednesday, April 23 2014, 10:23 AM CDT

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