By Paul Weidenfeld
I. Concerns of the 2015 OIG Work Plan
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) expressed concern regarding exclusion and suspension enforcement in its 2015 OIG Work Plan. The OIG announced that its Office of Audit Services will study whether the operating divisions within its own agency have been taking adequate precautions to ensure that individuals and entities that have been suspended or debarred are not being awarded Federal grants or contracts. Noting that “Federal agencies are required to make awards only to responsible sources,” the 2015 OIG Work Plan states that precluding firms or individuals that have been excluded or suspended from receiving contracts or assistance is one of the ways of achieving that objective. The Work Plan suggests it is following up on a Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report that “found that some agency programs need greater attention, and government wide oversight could be improved.”
II. OIG Agency Accountability
We must note, however, that the study seems only to include suspensions and debarments (which are temporary exclusions or exclusions for a fixed period of time) reported in the System for Award Management (SAM), the exclusion database maintained by the General Services Administration (GSA). While this might signify that OIG is satisfied with agency enforcement of its own administrative sanctions, the important takeaway is that OIG is holding its own agency to a standard that includes screening the SAM in addition to the LEIE.
The inclusion of this study in the work plan has several important messages. First, providers are reminded that screening of the LEIE alone is clearly not enough. Secondly, indirect payments in the form of contracts cannot be ignored in one’s screening protocol. Finally, enforcement of the payment prohibition to excluded persons and entities remains a high enforcement priority for the OIG.
Paul Weidenfeld, Co-Founder and CEO of Exclusion Screening, LLC, is the author of this article. He is a longtime health care lawyer whose practice has focused on False Claims Act cases and health care fraud matters generally. Contact Paul should you have any questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-294-0952.
 OAS; W-00-15-59024 which is expected to be issued in FY 2015.