Fighting fraud, waste and abuse at Oregon Secretary of State, Audits Division
“My advice would be definitely try it out and see what efficiencies you can gain in your agency and your organization. It’s a great tool for managing things. It’s a great tool for strategic planning, for analyzing data. You can do so much with it that it’s endless.”
Oregon Secretary of State
“It would be impossible to do our work without a tool like ACL. You need something to be able to pull all that data together, make connections from one database to another, to really develop those findings and you just can’t do that manually.”
Principal Performance Auditor,
Oregon Secretary of State
The Secretary of State is Oregon’s chief elections officer, auditor and archivist. Oregon is the only state where the secretary of state is responsible for auditing public spending. Oregon Secretary of State, Audits Division’s mission is to protect the public interest while helping improve Oregon government. Auditors ensure public funds are spent as legally required, used to their best advantage and properly accounted for.
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Interview with Jaime Ralls, CFE, ACDA, Principal Auditor and Ian Green, CGAP, CFE, Principal Performance Auditor, Oregon Secretary of State, Audits Division.
Jamie: I work for the Secretary of State in Oregon, in the Audit Division. We audit the entire state of Oregon where public dollars are. So, any state dollars that’s entrusted in our purview.
Ian: My role is to lead the audit. I direct my staff, coach them, mentor them, but I also need to think big picture, be able to see the audit from the beginning to the end. ACL helps me do that work and really get some good evidence.
What challenges do you face?
Jamie: We’re looking at huge programs. So, lots and lots of dollars going through and there’s large data systems. We have millions and millions of records that we’re looking at and large-scale programs like foster care and food stamps, and temporary assistance for needy families, Medicaid.
What have you achieved with the ACL platform?
Ian: It would be impossible to do our work without a tool like ACL. I’m looking at 200 million Medicaid claims right now and it’s impossible to look at that manually, one at a time. You need something to be able to pull all that data together, make connections from one database to another to really develop those findings and you just can’t do that manually.
Jamie: Being able to match datasets that are large together. I think I use it, the analytics side. Being able to analyze data and see anomalies in the data so quickly, I’ve been able to find fraud and you can’t do that with other programs. So ACL has been beneficial for that.
What results have you seen?
Ian: I think just showing the value that our organization has had over the past decades using ACL. We’ve had tremendous value on being able to make some really important recommendations to help protect taxpayer dollars.
What’s the coolest thing that the ACL platform has helped you do?
Jamie: I found dead people using food stamps and public assistance. I found inmates that were in prison on public assistance. But I think the single coolest thing is helping to bring down a Mexican drug cartel that was using food stamps and taking those dollars and channeling them to Mexico.
What would you say to somebody considering the software?
Jamie: The main thing is just to try it. They’ve got to try the tool. You can spend an hour or two and find literally millions of dollars in a large state program of waste, of fraud, of inefficiencies. So you will recoup the money that you spent on the software, I would say, within hours.
Ian: You’ve got to start somewhere, so building up your abilities to use the software and leverage the capabilities—it takes time, but at the same time there’s a lot of just easy buttons to click. We love Benford’s Law and we use it all the time in ACL and it’s literally a click of a button and you can find the fraud instantly.
Jamie: My advice would be definitely try it out and see what efficiencies you can gain in your agency and your organization. It’s a great tool for managing things. It’s a great tool for strategic planning, for analyzing data. You can do so much with it that it’s endless.