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According to a newly released audit by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Inspector General (OIG), initiated in response to a whistleblower referral by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), a software flaw at Treasury resulted in $472 million in uncollected debts owed to over 28 federal agencies.
The OIG audit followed OSC's September 2019 referral of an anonymous whistleblower's allegations regarding uncollected debts owed to the Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSC referred the matter for investigation to the U.S. Treasury and Labor Departments, and both substantiated the allegations. In its initial report, Treasury found that nearly 11,000 OSHA debts valued at $91.5 million had not been serviced due to the defective software. The new audit revealed the scope of the problem to be far more widespread, impacting numerous federal agencies and hundreds of millions of dollars in uncollected debts.
In its report, Treasury noted that the software error has since been corrected and, as of May 2022, nearly $10 million owed to OSHA and over $3 million owed to other agencies has been recovered. Treasury also agreed to implement various corrective actions and will promptly begin collecting the outstanding debts.
“I again commend the whistleblower for bringing these serious allegations forward," said Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner. “The audit shows the scope and magnitude of this problem were far more significant than previously known. The whistleblower's disclosure made it possible for the federal government to initiate collection of nearly a half-billion dollars in uncollected debts."