The Associated Press filed a story Wednesday, April 26, about a federal General Accounting Office (GAO) investigation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and fraud associated with its post-Katrina financial assistance.
In that story, the chief GAO investigator seemed to suggest that ChoicePoint was to blame for systemic failures in FEMA’s anti-fraud program.
While it is not clear exactly what that official meant to say to the AP reporter, what is perfectly clear is his testimony before a Senate committee only six weeks ago: “We [GAO] tested the Internet application process using bogus identities and were unable to successfully register.”
The Internet application process was the only one in which ChoicePoint was involved.
Had we been hired by FEMA to address possibly fraudulent claims coming in over their phone lines, we would have been equally successful – but we were not hired for that. In fact, FEMA’s inspector general said at the same hearing that “the contractors [ChoicePoint] were only reacting to what FEMA asked for.”
It is, therefore, inappropriate and unfair to criticize ChoicePoint given that the operation over which we had control was the only one singled out by the GAO as actually working.
Both FEMA and the GAO know that ChoicePoint provided a valuable service in the days and weeks after Hurricane Katrina. FEMA has since expanded its existing contract with ChoicePoint to apply the same anti-fraud technology to other processes and we have worked with the GAO to make those systems even more effective.
There are any number of real instances of fraud and abuse to investigate without anyone having to spend time or money talking about ones that didn’t exist or never happened.