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Other OIG Activities

Investigations

The Office of Investigations investigates allegations of waste, fraud, abuse, gross mismanagement, employee and contractor misconduct, and criminal and civil violations of law that have an impact on the Institution's programs and operations. It refers matters to the U.S. Department of Justice whenever the OIG has reasonable grounds to believe there has been a violation of federal criminal law. It also identifies fraud indicators and recommends measures to management to improve the Institution's ability to protect itself against fraud and other wrongdoing.

Related documents:

Understanding the Investigative Process


Summaries of Selected Closed Cases and Complaints


Theft of Funds

We previously reported that OIG and FBI agents arrested three employees of Parking Management Inc. (PMI) on August 4, 2012, on charges of stealing visitor parking fees collected at the Smithsonian Institution’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. OIG agents determined that these PMI employees began stealing parking fees in April 2009, shortly after PMI took over management of the museum’s parking lot. On some days, each stole more than $4,000 from the Smithsonian.

On July 19, 2013, a former PMI on-site manager was sentenced to 40 months in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release, and ordered to pay approximately $1.4 million in restitution, for his role in a conspiracy to steal visitor-parking fees. We previously reported that two other former PMI employees were sentenced to 20 months and 27 months in prison for their roles in the thefts. Another former PMI employee committed suicide.


Return of Collections Items
OIG agents assisted Smithsonian curators in reviewing items seized in an outside organization’s investigation. We determined that 148 items of limited historical significance belonged to the Smithsonian collections. These items were returned to the Smithsonian.

Return of Artifacts
OIG agents are assisting the Department of Homeland Security with the return of historical artifacts allegedly taken illegally from the battlefield by an American soldier during the Korean War. The artifacts are being returned to the Republic of Korea in cooperation with the Korean Cultural Heritage Administration. The artifacts were never in the possession of the Smithsonian or part of its collections.

Press Releases


Parking Lot Attendants Arrested

Three employees of Parking Management Inc. (PMI) were arrested on August 4, 2012 by agents of the Smithsonian Office of Inspector General and Federal Bureau of Investigation on charges of stealing at least $400,000 of visitor parking fees collected at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.


Click to read the full press release.

PMI Parking Lot Attendant Pleads Guilty

On September 28, 2012, Meseret Terefe, 36, of Silver Spring, Md., pled guilty to stealing at least $400,000 of visitor parking fees belonging to the Smithsonian Institution’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Scott S. Dahl, Inspector General for the Smithsonian Institution; and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by United States District Judge T. S. Ellis III.


Click to read the full press release.

Second PMI Parking Lot Attendant Pleads Guilty

On November 2, 2012, Freweyni Mebrahtu, 45, of Sterling, Virginia, pled guilty to stealing at least $400,000 of visitor parking fees belonging to the Smithsonian Institution’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Scott S. Dahl, Inspector General for the Smithsonian Institution; and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by United States District Judge T. S. Ellis III.


Click to read the full press release.

Former Parking Lot Attendant Sentenced

Freweyni Mebrahtu, 46, of Sterling, Va., was sentenced on February 8, 2013, to 27 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for stealing nearly $900,000 in visitor parking fees when she was employed by Parking Management, Inc., (PMI), the company contracted to manage parking services at the Smithsonian Institution’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Scott S. Dahl, Inspector General for the Smithsonian Institution; and Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge T.S. Ellis, III.


Click to read the full press release.

Parking Lot Manager Pleads Guilty

Abeselom Hailemariam, 33, of Alexandria, Va., pleaded guilty today for his participation in a conspiracy to steal approximately $1.4 million of visitor parking fees when he was employed by Parking Management, Inc., (PMI), the company contracted to manage parking services at the Smithsonian Institution’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Scott S. Dahl, Inspector General for the Smithsonian Institution; and Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by United States District Judge T.S. Ellis, III.


Click to read the full press release.

Parking Lot Manager Sentenced

Abeselom Hailemariam, 33, of Alexandria, Va., was sentenced to 40 months in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release, and ordered to pay approximately $1.4 million in restitution, for his role in a conspiracy to steal approximately $1.4 million of visitor-parking fees from the Smithsonian Institution’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Scott S. Dahl, Inspector General for the Smithsonian Institution; and Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge T.S. Ellis, III.


Click to read the full press release.

Legislative and Regulatory Review

The Inspector General Act mandates that our office monitor and review legislative and regulatory proposals for their impact on the Smithsonian's programs and operations and with an eye toward promoting economy, effectiveness, efficiency, and preventing fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement.

Outreach

Presentations on fraud awareness throughout the Institution are a cornerstone of our efforts to prevent and detect waste, fraud, and abuse and promote economy, efficiency and effectiveness at the Smithsonian.

OIG Special Agents also make these presentations at bi-weekly new employee orientations held by the Institution's Office of Human Resources.

Download the presentation

Involvement with Other Organizations

The OIG is actively involved with the Washington Metro Electronic Crimes Task Force, the Metropolitan Area Fraud Task Force, the Security Association of Financial Institutions workgroup, and the Interagency Fraud Risk Data Mining Group.

The Inspector General served as the co-chair for and hosted the 15th Annual Awards Ceremony for the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE).

Recovery Act Oversight

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) of 2009 provided the Smithsonian Institution $25 million for Facilities Capital Improvements for the repair and revitalization of existing facilities. The Office of the Inspector General was responsible for oversight over the use of these funds.

Learn more

Peer Review

Government Auditing Standards require audit organizations to undergo external peer reviews by independent reviewers every three years. Our most recent peer review, conducted by the Office of the Inspector General for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and issued in September 2011, concluded that our quality control system was designed to meet government auditing standards, and complied with those standards, for the 15-month period ended March 31, 2011. We have addressed the seven findings from the review.

Download the September 2011 peer review report

To assist other audit organizations in meeting their peer review requirements, we were called upon to review the system of audit quality control for the Corporation for National and Community Service's (CNCS) Office of the Inspector General. In our opinion, the system of quality control for the CNCS OIG in effect for the year ended September 30, 2012, was suitably designed and complied with to provide the CNCS OIG with reasonable assurance of performing and reporting in conformity with applicable professional standards in all material respects.

Download our CNCS peer review report