CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety is in the process of forming a fraud squad. The agency is presently training personnel as professional fraud examiners, something Secretary Jeff Sandy said will be a huge benefit in protecting high dollar state contracts.
“Each year we place out for bid millions of dollars in state contracts. Per legislation passed last year, we have the authority to do criminal background checks on those bidding on contracts,” said Sandy.
The bill enables the agency to better research bidders and find out their history before entering a large contract. It is due dillegence which Sandy believed would offer greater protections to taxpayer money when it’s tied up with an outside vendor.
“We want to be pro-active to make sure the state of West Virginia, especially in DMAPS, is not dealing with a vendor who has had for example multiple bankruptices and may go into bankruptcy during our contract,” said Sandy.
The examination can also extend into the agency’s hiring process and enable in-house background checks and vetting of job applicants up and down the agency’s rolls.
They’re hoping to have a staff of eight eventually on board. They currently have four who have gone through the training process. Sandy is one of those who is a certified fraud examiner.
Sandy added however, the work they need from this team is not to replace or rival the work of already established state agencies like the state Auditor’s Office or the criminal investigation divisions. He said his agency’s work would be from a different angle.
“We consider them reactive, but we want to be proactive to prevent things from happening,” he said.