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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. The Office of Investigations also identifies fraud indicators and recommends measures to management to improve the Smithsonian's ability to protect itself against fraud and other wrongdoing.

Related documents:

OIG Hotline Poster

Understanding the Investigative Process


Summaries of Selected Closed Cases and Complaints


Recovery of National Collection Item Valued at $400,000

OIG received information that an individual in Texas claimed to be in possession of the Omega watch once worn by Apollo 7 astronaut Donn Eisele while he was in space in 1968. NASA had purchased Omega watches for all astronauts for their use in space. The Omega watches remained the property of NASA and were returned to NASA by the astronauts upon their departure from the space program. NASA transferred this watch to the Smithsonian, and it became part of the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) collection. The watch was reported stolen from the Smithsonian collections while on loan to another museum in 1989.

With the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), OIG identified the person who claimed to be in possession of the watch. Then, with the assistance of personnel from NASM, OIG was able to verify that the item was the stolen Omega watch. OIG, in coordination with FBI agents, recovered the Omega watch and returned it to NASM. The Omega watch has an estimated value of $400,000 based on its historical provenance.


Time and Attendance Violation by Senior Employee

OIG determined that a senior Smithsonian employee recorded 60 hours as work hours when the employee was actually on leave, violating Smithsonian time and attendance policies. This inaccurate reporting represented an estimated loss of approximately $6,267 to the Smithsonian. The employee said many other hours were worked that were not claimed. Nonetheless, Smithsonian policy does not allow any inaccurate time recording by employees. The employee’s official time and attendance record was corrected to indicate that 60 hours of sick leave were used. The employee received verbal counseling on the importance of documenting time and attendance correctly.


Misuse of Transit Benefits by Senior Employee

OIG determined that a senior Smithsonian employee obtained transit benefit funds despite using a personal vehicle to commute to work. In doing so, the employee violated Smithsonian policy and the terms of Smithsonian’s transit benefit. The employee received verbal counseling for misuse of transit benefits. The remaining balance of approximately $2,050 was removed from the employee’s transit benefit account and returned to the Smithsonian.


Fraud by Smithsonian Contractor Employee

OIG determined that an employee of a Smithsonian contractor fraudulently billed the Smithsonian for approximately 500 hours of overtime. The Smithsonian ended its contract with the contractor, and the contractor terminated the employee who committed the fraud. The United States Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute the case.


Time and Attendance Fraud, Misuse of Government Equipment

OIG determined that an employee violated Smithsonian policies by spending an excessive amount of time on personal calls using a Smithsonian-furnished telephone. Over a 9-month period, the employee spent a cumulative amount of 18 work days on personal calls, which has an estimated monetary loss of $5,427. OIG also found that the employee misused the Smithsonian computer system by conducting personal business activities during Smithsonian duty hours and using Smithsonian-furnished equipment. The employee accessed numerous websites for the personal business for a total amount of 11 hours over a 9-month period, which resulted in a cost to the Smithsonian of approximately $400, and saved personal business documents to the employee’s Smithsonian computer. The employee received a 9-day suspension without pay.


Time and Attendance Violation by Senior Employee

OIG determined that a senior Smithsonian employee violated the time and attendance policies by recording 40.5 hours as work hours when the employee was actually on leave. This inaccurate reporting represented an estimated loss of approximately $4,376 to the Smithsonian. The employee’s official time and attendance record was corrected by 30.5 hours of annual leave used and 10 hours of sick leave used. The employee said substantial overtime was worked that was not recorded. The employee received verbal counseling on the importance of documenting time and attendance correctly.


Theft of $200 from Museum Visitor

OIG determined that an employee created an appearance of violating Smithsonian policy and was less than candid in connection with a purse that was lost by a museum visitor. The employee found a visitor’s lost purse in a museum gallery but did not follow the required lost-and-found procedures. When the purse was eventually returned to the museum visitor, the visitor claimed that $200 was missing. The employee was terminated, and the employee’s appeal to the Merit System Protection Board was denied.


Theft of $6,000 in Parking Lot Revenue

OIG found that an employee stole approximately $6,000 in parking fee revenue. Based on the evidence found during OIG’s investigation, the employee was terminated. The United States Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute the case.


Misuse of Smithsonian Equipment, Providing False Information

OIG determined that an employee violated Smithsonian policies by using Smithsonian-furnished equipment to transmit inappropriate nude images and by providing false information on a Declaration for Federal Employment. The employee was terminated.


Theft of $3,000 of Cash from Museum Store

OIG determined that an employee stole approximately $3,000 from a museum store. The Smithsonian terminated the employee, and an arrest warrant was served on the employee. Subsequent to arrest, the employee entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office. The employee agreed to pay $1,000 in restitution and served 8 hours of community service.



Legislative and Regulatory Review

In accordance with the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, OIG monitors and reviews legislative and regulatory proposals for their impact on the Smithsonian’s programs and operations. Additionally, the Counsel to the Inspector General monitors congressional bills and issues relating to the Inspector General community. OIG also reviews draft Smithsonian policies for their impact on OIG operations.

Outreach

Presentations on fraud awareness throughout the Smithsonian 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 Smithsonian's Office of Human Resources.


Involvement with Other Organizations

OIG is actively involved with the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE), a group of federal inspectors general that promotes collaboration on integrity, economy, and efficiency issues that transcend individual agencies. The Inspector General serves on five CIGIE committees and is the chair of the Small/Unique OIG Group, a group of inspectors general who meet quarterly and exchange ideas and practices. The OIG Counsel leads the Smaller OIG Counsel Working Group and serves on the steering committee for the OIG Freedom of Information Act Working Group.

In addition, OIG staff participate in the Metropolitan Area Fraud Task Force, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the Institute of Internal Auditors, the Federal Audit Advisory Committee for Enterprise Technology Solutions, the Financial Statement Audit Network, and the Interagency Fraud Risk Data Mining Group.





Peer Review

Government Auditing Standards require audit organizations to undergo external peer reviews by independent reviewers every three years. In our most recent peer review, the OIG for Amtrak concluded that our quality control system was designed to meet government auditing standards and complied with those standards for the year ended March 31, 2017.

Download the September 2017 peer review report


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