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A Human Driven Data-centric Approach to Accountability: Analyzing Data to Prevent Fraud, Waste and Abuse in Stimulus Spending

Open Data and Web Services
Location: Room 207 B

The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (“RAT”) Board was set up by President Obama in House Resolution #1 – the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – to prevent fraud, waste and abuse in the $787 billion spent in the Economic Stimulus Program. Overseen by Vice-President Joseph Biden and Chairman Devaney, the RAT Board leverages the massive quantity of data available to discover and investigate previously unknown fraud. This presentation will be given by a combination of Chairman Devaney (previously the Inspector General at the Department of the Interior – he is known for uncovering the Abramoff Scandal), and Director Doug Hassebrock (in charge of the operations center). Alex Fishman (lead analyst for the RAT Board at the Recovery Operation Center) will help to drive the technology used to find and investigate the case.
The presentation will conclude with the demonstration of a real case of fraud in Stimulus spending the Recovery Board found and investigated.
The talk is relevant for those who are interested in using data to drive government accountability, agencies that want to leverage the data that has resulted from the transparency movement, and those looking for fraud, waste and abuse.


I. Introduction and the structure of the RAT Board: The RAT Board monitors stimulus spending and refers likely cases to the Inspectors General to further investigate. Its customers are the agencies actually receiving Stimulus funds.

II. Upfront screening: The RAT Board ensures that each dollar spent as part of the Stimulus goes through at least a basic screening process. This ensures that every dollar is tracked and also feeds the in-depth investigation.

III. Data Fusion and Analysis: When there is a potential case of fraud, waste, or abuse analysts investigate it by combining all relevant data sets. Each data set contains only a trace of potential procurement fraud. It is only when these data sets are understood together that fraud can be identified and properly referred to the Inspector Generals. The RAT Board combines many public and open source data sources to look for non-obvious relationships among corporate and individual entities. The RAT Board is using a new approach previously only used in the intelligence community: empowering human analysts to rapidly comb through data to identify anomalous patterns and investigate them.

IV. Predictive Analytics: Using trend analysis and insight from past instances of procurement fraud the RAT Board develops models for each Agency to aid them in allocating their resources for patrolling procurements. This is a great example of inter-agency collaboration in government (and we can share one).

V. Sample Case: The presentation will conclude by showing an example of procurement fraud the RAT Board was able to detect. We will walk through how the data revealed the behavior to be fraudulent.

Alex Fishman

Palantir Technologies

Alex Fishman is the lead analyst at the Recovery, Accountability and Transparency Board where he investigates potential cases of fraud, waste and abuse in Stimulus spending. He also oversees the implementation of the RAT Board’s unique technology.

Douglas Hassebrock

Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board

Doug Hassebrock oversees all investigative efforts of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board and the Recovery Operations Center. In addition to his current duties, Mr. Hassebrock is a Lt. Colonel in the US Air Force Reserves. Mr. Hassebrock was formerly a Special Agent for the Dept of Interior IG and Air Force OSI.

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