The Pentagon’s inspector general has received almost 300 tips and opened more than 200 complaints as of May 11, according to the oversight plan. More than half of the complaints were for alleged violations of social distancing policy.
Those inquiries are part of a sweeping review that will look at the use of a $10 billion emergency cash infusion to help with COVID-19 response, according to a Thursday release from the Defense Department inspector general’s office.
An additional $20 million will go toward sussing out waste, fraud and abuse during the pandemic, including more than a dozen audits and evaluations of programs ranging from the Navy’s shipboard outbreak plan to the Army Corps of Engineers’ efforts to convert convention centers, stadiums and other facilities into medical centers.
“Our oversight work will remain flexible and responsive to developing DoD requirements, to include reevaluating planned or ongoing work to determine whether work should be modified,” the release said.
The IG has received 294 tips through its hotline as of May 11, 229 of which have been escalated to formal complaints for investigation.
Of those, 166 involve social distancing violations. As of mid-April, anyone on a DoD installation who cannot maintain six feet of personal distance at any given time must wear a face covering.
Another 70 involved isolation and quarantine requirement, 23 for care of patients and 10 for instances of outright fraud.
About $3.8 billion of CARES Act funds went to the defense health budget, to directly treat service members and support medical operations. Another $1 billion funds the Defense Production Act, ramp up stock of personal protective gear and other medical equipment, and another $1.2 billion was set aside to cover pay for National Guard troops activated to support local response.
On April 6, then DoD IG Glenn Fine issued a memo to the department calling for best practices and lessons learned, laying the ground work for a massive after-action report that will explore how the billions of dollars were spent and whether DoD’s programs constituted an effective response to the pandemic.
Individual reviews will include:
• The Navy’s outbreak response plan for ships and submarines
• Entitlements and allowances for Reserve Component troops mobilized for pandemic response support
• Cost control for COVID-19 health care claims
• Equipment and supplies contracts
• Defense Logistics Agency procurement of ventilators and respirator masks
• Best practices and lessons learned from past disaster responses
• Army Corps of Engineers alternate care site conversion
• Appointment of dual-status commanders
• Screening and quarantine procedures at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar
• Infectious disease treatment capabilities at Al Udeid
• The impact of coronavirus pandemic on basic training
• Cybersecurity while teleworking during COVID-19 pandemic
• Access to DoD information technology and communications during the pandemic
• Contracts for IT products and services purchased to support remote work and social distancing
• Combatant command responses to the pandemic
• Disinfection of DoD facilities
To report fraud, drop a tip at the DOD IG hotline or contact the Justice Department.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.