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whistleblower.jpgAs anyone who has ever seen an episode of Law & Order knows, prosecutors must often rely upon information and testimony provided by informants, whistleblowers, and even accomplices to help prosecute the most dangerous criminals. After all, who better knows the inner workings of a crime than one of the perpetrators? While using one thief to catch another is seen as distasteful by some, most people realize that this is the only way to secure convictions for the most dangerous criminals; for example, using a small-time drug dealer to help convict the kingpin, or the co-conspiring accountant to testify against the CEO’s embezzlement.

However, the situation becomes much more complicated when the whistleblower is a federal employee and they are blowing the whistle on the federal government. Federal employees work for the government, and parts of their job might require them to keep information about dangerous, unethical, or even illegal activity by the federal government away from the general public. This creates a difficult balancing act: when should a federal employee maintain the secrecy of such information, and when should they provide leaks to the press? Does it matter whether the federal employee is in a position of power? Are their motives relevant?
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Seal_for_the_Special_Inspector_General_for_Afghanistan_Reconstruction.gifThere are nearly infinite possibilities when it comes to defrauding the federal government. You can bill for things never done, or you do something and bill for it twice. You can submit a fake invoice, or you can cause a third party to submit a fake invoice on your behalf. If the government is paying for something, you can be certain that someone is trying to find a way to cheat the government and stick the taxpayer with the bill. That said, the Qesmatullah Nasrat Construction Company (QNCC) found a new way to cheat the U.S. Government: they were hired to build a police station in Afghanistan–instead, they built a sand castle.

The Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) just released a report, providing a rare and insightful look at how a boldly fraudulent effort resulted in the theft of half a million dollars. Wardak Province is located in central Afghanistan near Kabul, and has served as the location for several clashes between encroaching Taliban fighters and the U.S. and Afghan troops who serve to protect it. In 2012, to better secure the area and to provide an improved training ground for Afghan police officers, the Federal Government awarded QNCC a $456,669 contract to build a dry fire range, allowing police recruits to take part in advanced training exercises. QNCC claimed to have finished construction several months later, and were paid in full for its supposed efforts. After all, a contracting officer had conducted seven on-site inspections and reported that the project was “100 percent complete, with no deficiencies or missing items noted.”
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