I. 2015 OIG Work Plan
The Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) ongoing concern regarding exclusion enforcement is reflected in its 2015 OIG Work Plan. In the work plan, the OIG announced that its Office of Audit Services will study whether the operating divisions within its own agency have been taking adequate precautions to ensure that excluded or debarred individuals and entities are not being awarded Federal grants or contracts. Noting that “[f]ederal agencies are required to make awards only to responsible sources,” the work plan states that precluding firms or individuals that have been excluded or suspended from receiving contracts or assistance is one of the ways of achieving that objective. The work plan suggests that it is following up on a GAO Report that “found that some agency programs need greater attention, and government wide oversight could be improved.”
Interestingly, the study is focused exclusively on suspensions and debarments reported in the System for Award Management (SAM), the exclusion database maintained by the General Services Administration. While this might signify that the OIG is satisfied with agency enforcement of its own administrative sanctions, the important takeaway is that the OIG is holding its own agency to a standard that includes screening the SAM in addition to the LEIE. It will be very interesting to see what the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) does.
The results of this study in the work plan provides two important messages. First, it serves to remind that screening the LEIE alone is not enough. Second, it reminds us that the enforcement of the payment prohibition to excluded persons and entities remains a high enforcement priority for the OIG.
Paul Weidenfeld, Co-Founder and CEO of Exclusion Screening, LLC, is the author of this article. He is a longtime health care lawyer whose practice has focused on False Claims Act cases and health care fraud matters generally. Contact Paul should you have any questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-294-0952.
 OAS; W-00-15-59024 is expected to be issued in FY 2015.