This guide discusses the possibility of fraud and waste that the historic ‘once in a generation’ $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill (IIJA) will trigger and how this can be tackled effectively.
Scams and misappropriation of funds in large programs are not new. The U.S. government has routinely seen funds fall through the cracks of traditional governance and program oversight. Experts such as Stephen Street, president of the Association of Inspectors General, a nonprofit group, have suggested that 10% of the $1.2 trillion could be siphoned off. That is, $120 million of taxpayers’ money that may never make it to the roads, bridges, railways, ports, waterways, high-speed internet infrastructure, etc., it was meant for.
The lack of adequate oversight is a critical concern. The IIJA has no guidance or provision for monitoring and addressing waste and fraud. Risk experts have been saying that obsolete technology is among the handicaps the industry and federal agencies face to minimize or eliminate fraud. The history of capital projects in the U.S. is replete with instances of fraud, substandard execution, cost overruns, and the awarding of contracts in violation of norms. Boston’s Big Dig—the Central Artery/Tunnel project is a classic example.
Infrastructure investment should maximize the public benefit, improve the quality of life for constituents, and benefit local and regional economies. Given that delivering maximum benefits to the public is an important goal, preventing and measuring fraud is essential.
There are four ways to use technology to achieve this:
- Utilize digital systems
- Implement best practices
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
- A single source of truth