Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Office of Inspector General Announces Whistleblower Award Program for the Disclosure of Fraud, Waste or Mismanagement

For immediate release: January 30, 2024

The following news release was issued by the WMATA Office of Inspector General.

Acting Inspector General Kevin B. Muhlendorf announced the launch of the WMATA Office of Inspector General (OIG) Whistleblower Award Program. Effective February 1, 2024, the WMATA OIG’s Whistleblower Award Program will begin evaluating information provided by whistleblowers for potential awards of up to $10,000. Information on eligibility requirements, directions on submitting a tip or complaint, and answers to frequently asked questions can be found at www.wmataoig.gov.

“Early detection of fraud by those who work for or contract with WMATA is critical to the protection of WMATA’s assets and taxpayer dollars,” said Acting IG Muhlendorf. “The goal of this program is to encourage and reward the provision of better and more timely tips by WMATA employees and contractor employees, as well as to bolster internal compliance programs by WMATA contractors. The OIG encourages anyone with information about waste or fraud related to WMATA contracts to
contact the WMATA OIG.”

Under the OIG Whistleblower Award Program, individuals who provide information to the WMATA OIG that results in either a recovery by WMATA of at least $250,000 or a cost savings of at least $1,000,000 through an audit or evaluation will be eligible for an award of up to $10,000. Information can be provided anonymously.

Simultaneously with the launch of the Whistleblower Award Program, the WMATA OIG is conducting an evaluation of WMATA contractors’ mandatory disclosures and ethics and compliance programs. WMATA contractors who are contractually required to make mandatory disclosures to the WMATA OIG are encouraged to review their policies and procedures for doing so, and promptly disclose reportable events to the OIG.

Acting IG Muhlendorf emphasized, “A contractor’s failure to make required disclosures to WMATA and the WMATA OIG calls into question a contractor’s present responsibility and can result in a referral to the WMATA Suspension and Debarment program. All WMATA contractors should be reviewing their compliance programs to ensure they are adequately evaluating and making required disclosures.”

If you want to make a disclosure or have information about fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement, please report it to the WMATA OIG Hotline at 1-888-234-2374, via email at hotline@wmataoig.gov or through the website at www.wmataoig.gov.

WMATA OIG Wins Prestigious ALGA Knighton Audit Award

The Knighton Awards recognize the best performance audit reports of the year. Audit shops compete against peer shops of similar size for this prestigious award. The Knighton Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Association of Local Government Auditors (ALGA), acknowledging the top performance audit reports issued by its 300+ local government audit organization members. Audits are evaluated based on various criteria, including their potential for significant impact, the persuasiveness of their conclusions, a focus on improving government efficiency and effectiveness, as well as clarity and conciseness.

About the Audit

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (the Authority) manages over 1500 non-revenue vehicles that are used to support the Authority’s administrative, maintenance, construction and/or operational functions. In FY 2019, the Authority spent almost $8 million on unleaded fuel and over $17 million on diesel fuel for non-revenue vehicles. The audit objective was to assess the controls and accountability over fuel for non-revenue vehicles. The audit found that improvements were needed in controls over (1) fuel acquisition, delivery, and consumption, (2) segregating duties for fuel delivery, (3) physical security at facilities and fuel pumps, and (4) excessive vehicle idling during work hours. Tests showed there were over 1.17 million gallons of unaccounted fuel transactions valued at over $2 million. OIG could not validate these transactions as legitimate because current and former employees could easily pump fuel into unauthorized vehicles, using codes which gave the appearance of a valid transaction. For example, 211 separated employee identification numbers were inappropriately used as validation to pump over 4,500 gallons of fuel. Further, OIG observed significant process gaps and an overall inadequate control environment to prevent or detect fraud. Lastly, these control deficiencies resulted in excessive vehicle idling time that wasted fuel valued at over $187,000.

What the judges said

This audit assessed the controls and accountability for using fuel, which is a major liquid asset at the risk of fraud and abuse on a daily level. Not only did the audit find significant control improvements are needed to the overall fuel program, but it also found current employees were inappropriately using separated employee identification numbers to pump over 4,500 gallons of fuel. The report commenced with a strong “Results in Brief” section, which highlighted why the report was important, what the auditors found, and management’s responses. As for the flow of the report, it was impressively written. Each finding contained: the Finding, What Is Required, What We Found, Why This Occurred, Why This Is Important, and Recommendations. Visuals such as tables, charts, and graphs were easy to read. Both the findings and recommendations were well-structured and appropriately differentiated. In addition, we found the recommendations to be practical, feasible, and fair. Overall, we were impressed with the clarity and flow of the report, which brought readers along with the message. This truly was an exemplary report.

Q&A with the audit team

Tell us a little about the audit team

This audit was performed by Yamani Dole, Bob Batta, and Chantelle Barnes. Yamani is a CIA, CFE and CGAP and has extensive experience auditing both in government and the private sector. Bob is a CFE and has worked in auditing for over 40 years. He has also worked in eight Inspector General offices and was an OIG Senior Executive. Chantelle is a CFE and CIGA and was recently promoted to Senior Auditor. In addition, Chantelle is pursuing a master’s degree in Cyber Accounting and has varied experience in the areas of internal controls, compliance, and internal audit.

What are you most proud of about this audit?

Our audit developed and provided information to the Authority about the effectiveness of the non-revenue vehicle fuel program. The audit highlighted significant process gaps, and OIG made 11 recommendations to add value to the program and organization. The impact of this audit was substantial as it reviewed inefficient and non-compliant administrative processes and program governance controls. This audit received significant media attention and was covered by several local and national media outlets. As part of the Corrective Action Plan process, the Authority was able to identify an additional $1.6 million in cost savings if all the proposed corrective measures materialized, and reduce vehicle idle time, which benefits our environment.

What is one thing you learned while working on this audit that you think would be valuable to ALGA members?

The importance of implementing effective controls over fuel acquisition, delivery, and consumption. It is important for organizations to establish clear policies and procedures for fuel acquisition, delivery, and consumption, as well as to segregate duties to prevent fraudulent activities. Physical security measures should also be implemented at fuel facilities and pumps to ensure that fuel is only being used for authorized purposes. By implementing effective controls in these areas, organizations can help to minimize the risk of fraud, waste, and abuse related to its fuel programs, and ensure that resources are being used efficiently and effectively.

WMATA Employee Charged with Extortion and Bribery Connected to Surplus Property Sales

As released by: Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Columbia – Friday, October 6, 2023

Defendant Accused of Extorting Payments and Accepting Bribes from a WMATA Surplus Property Customer

Click here for press release from Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Columbia

WMATA OIG is an independent and objective unit of WMATA that conducts investigations relating to WMATA activities. The office encourages anyone with information about improper or illegal activity to contact the OIG hotline at 1-888-234-2374 or via email at hotline@wmataoig.gov.

WMATA Senior Program Manager Sentenced for Carrying Out Procurement Scheme

As released by: Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Columbia – Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Defendant Manipulated Process to Benefit Company That Received More Than $1.3 Million

Click here for press release from Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Columbia

WMATA OIG is an independent and objective unit of WMATA that conducts investigations relating to WMATA activities. The office encourages anyone with information about improper or illegal activity to contact the OIG hotline at 1-888-234-2374 or via email at hotline@wmataoig.gov.

Former Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Employee Sentenced for Theft of Metro Property

For immediate release: March 10, 2023

The following news release was issued by the WMATA Office of Inspector General.

Rene Febles, Inspector General, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) announced that Sean A. Armour, former WMATA Car Maintenance Shift Supervisor and resident of Hedgesville, West Virginia, pled guilty today in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County to one count of misdemeanor Theft and was sentenced by Judge John P. Davey to a six-month suspended sentence and three years of unsupervised probation. In addition, he was ordered to have no contact with the WMATA facility where he worked.

The WMATA Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation resulted in Armour’s arrest on October 12, 2022 when he attempted to steal 75 brass axel brush rings that WMATA originally purchased for approximately $200 per ring. Armour admitted during an interview with investigators to taking the rings with the intent to sell them for scrap proceeds. Armour was also transporting a loaded, semi-automatic pistol in his personal vehicle at the time of his arrest on WMATA property.

Court records show Armour was subsequently charged in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County with one felony count of Theft: (Article §7-104) and another misdemeanor count of Loaded Handgun in Vehicle (Article §4-203(A)(1)(V)) in violation of Maryland criminal law.

Inspector General Febles would like to thank the Metropolitan Transit Police Department and the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office for their partnership in this investigation.

Metro Board appoints Rene Febles Inspector General

As released by: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)

Click here for press release from Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

WMATA OIG is an independent and objective unit of WMATA that conducts investigations relating to WMATA activities. The office encourages anyone with information about improper or illegal activity to contact the OIG hotline at 1-888-234-2374 or via email at hotline@wmataoig.gov.

WMATA Senior Program Manager Pleads Guilty to Carrying Out Procurement Scheme

As released by: Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Columbia – Thursday, September 29, 2022

Defendant Manipulated Process to Benefit Company That Received More Than $1.3 Million

Click here for press release from Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Columbia

WMATA OIG is an independent and objective unit of WMATA that conducts investigations relating to WMATA activities. The office encourages anyone with information about improper or illegal activity to contact the OIG hotline at 1-888-234-2374 or via email at hotline@wmataoig.gov.

Eight Individuals Facing Federal Indictment for a $3 Million Scheme to Defraud Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the Defense Health Agency

As released by: Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Maryland – Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Eight Individuals Facing Federal Indictment for a $3 Million Scheme to Defraud Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the Defense Health Agency

Click here for press release from Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Maryland

WMATA OIG is an independent and objective unit of WMATA that conducts investigations relating to WMATA activities. The office encourages anyone with information about improper or illegal activity to contact the OIG hotline at 1-888-234-2374 or via email at hotline@wmataoig.gov.

Upper Marlboro Woman Sentenced to 18 Months in Federal Prison for Stealing Over $300,000 in Social Security Benefits to Which She Was Not Entitled

As released by: Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Maryland – Thursday, August 5, 2021

Upper Marlboro Woman Sentenced to 18 Months in Federal Prison for Stealing Over $300,000 in Social Security Benefits to Which She Was Not Entitled

Click here for press release from Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Maryland

WMATA-OIG is an independent and objective unit of WMATA that conducts investigations relating to WMATA activities. The office encourages anyone with information about improper or illegal activity to contact the OIG hotline at 1-888-234-2374 or via email at hotline@wmataoig.gov.

Metro employee indicted on suspicion of stealing more than $150,000 in bus parts

As released by: The Washington Post – Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Metro employee indicted on suspicion of stealing more than $150,000 in bus parts.

Click here for press release from The Washington Post.

WMATA-OIG is an independent and objective unit of WMATA that conducts investigations relating to WMATA activities. The office encourages anyone with information about improper or illegal activity to contact the OIG hotline at 1-888-234-2374 or via email at hotline@wmataoig.gov.