Implementing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is among the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) highest priorities in this time of national emergency. The CARES Act provides DOT with over $36 billion to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19 across all modes of transportation. To its credit, DOT swiftly distributed these funds and has begun implementing the Act’s requirements to provide much-needed relief to American workers, families, and businesses. As the Department is aware, the volume of CARES Act funds and the speed with which the funds have been disbursed creates oversight challenges. Therefore, to support the Department in meeting its mission while promoting effective stewardship of significant taxpayer dollars, we are providing a summary of key risk areas for DOT’s consideration in bolstering its oversight of CARES Act grantees and contractors. These potential risk areas and our suggested actions to mitigate those risks are drawn largely from our prior work assisting DOT with oversight of a significant influx of funds for economic stimulus and emergency relief. By maintaining focus on these risk areas early on and putting in place key internal controls, DOT can promote efficiencies; help ensure compliance; and better prevent fraud, waste, and abuse.
On May 27, 2020, Ryan Parker was indicted in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia for one count of operating an aircraft without an airman’s certificate. The indictment alleges that on September 27, 2018, Parker served as an airman without authorization.
Parker previously operated an aircraft cleaning business, which gave him access to small aircraft at various regional airports in Virginia.
DOT-OIG is conducting this investigation.
Note: Indictments, informations, and criminal complaints are only accusations by the Government. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
On May 26, 2020, the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts sentenced Yat Kuen “Andy” Chan (Chan), a consultant for L&W Travel Inc. (L&W), a passenger bus charter company, to 8 months’ home confinement, 24 months’ probation, and a $300 assessment fee.
On October 8, 2019, Chan pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pay and bribe a public official. Chan conspired to bribe a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) safety investigator to influence a compliance review and safety audit of L&W in July and August 2018. Specifically, Chan paid the safety investigator $2,800 so that, despite at least two safety violations, all of L&W’s buses would remain in service. Chan also wanted to ensure that L&W was not subject to significant fines despite multiple other DOT safety violations.
DOT-OIG conducted this investigation jointly with FBI, with assistance from FMCSA.
Deputy Inspector General Mitch Behm responded to a May 19, 2020, letter from Chairwoman Maloney and Chairmen DeFazio and Connolly requesting information about OIG’s ongoing work at the time of the President’s designation of Howard “Skip” Elliott to serve as Acting Inspector General of the Department of Transportation. In his letter, Deputy Inspector General Behm confirmed that he is prepared to assume oversight of all of OIG’s efforts related to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, given Acting Inspector General Elliott’s recusal from those matters. In light of this recusal and his commitment to preserving the independence of OIG, Acting Inspector General Elliott requested that Deputy Inspector General Behm provide the detailed information requested by the Chairwoman and Chairmen. As such, the enclosure to this letter provides (1) a list of audits and investigations that were ongoing as of Mr. Elliott’s appointment as Acting Inspector General on May 15, 2020, and (2) a list of projects relating to the Office of the Secretary of Transportation that were opened between January 20, 2017, and the present. Deputy Inspector General Behm also confirmed that since becoming Acting Inspector General, Mr. Elliott has not directed or requested the modification of any audit or investigation.
This letter is in response to a May 19, 2020, letter from Chairwoman Maloney and Chairmen DeFazio and Connolly regarding Howard R. “Skip” Elliott’s designation by President Donald J. Trump to serve as Acting Inspector General of the Department of Transportation. Acting Inspector General Elliott stated that he is honored by the opportunity to fill the role of Acting Inspector General and that he intends to remain in the position until a permanent Inspector General is confirmed or he is otherwise directed by the President. In addition, he confirmed that Mitch Behm will continue to serve as the Deputy Inspector General, a position he has held for more than 4 years. Acting Inspector General Elliott wrote that he holds a deep respect for the mission and role of OIG and that he will perform his duties with the utmost integrity and without any inappropriate influence or interference with OIG’s ongoing or planned work. To that end, Acting Inspector General Elliott stated that he is recusing himself from any audit or investigative matters that pertain directly to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), where he will continue to serve as Administrator. He stated that he asked Deputy Inspector General Behm to provide the information Chairwoman Maloney and Chairmen DeFazio and Connolly requested on OIG’s ongoing work in a separate correspondence. Acting Inspector General Elliott also confirmed that he has not directed or requested the modification of any audit or investigation since his appointment on May 15, 2020.
As required by the Inspector General Act of 1978 (as amended), this Semiannual Report summarizes the activities of the Office of Inspector General for the preceding 6-month period.