by Nataliya Urciuoli
The Office of the Inspector General for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (“Office”) hosted the AIG’s 2016 annual conference this November. As the AIG’s local planning committee (“LPC”), one of our largest responsibilities was to plan the conference agenda.
At the outset, we recognized that no two Offices of Inspectors General are alike; therefore, conference attendees would have varied jurisdictions, statutory missions, specializations and interests. We also considered that conference attendees would include veteran investigators and auditors, newly hired staff, academics and graduate students from John Jay College, and other professionals. We therefore set out to prepare an agenda that reflected the diverse interests, jurisdictions and experiences of the AIG community. To that end, the program included segments on such topics as the challenges to independence, public corruption, contract compliance, strategies for preventing waste and using digital evidence in investigations. Other presentations addressed the findings of the most recent survey of the federal IG community; the use of education and outreach as prevention tools; and using data analytics and other electronic tools to enhance investigations, transparency and accountability.
Because the work of inspectors general overlaps with other agencies and organizations, we also reached out to other areas of government and the private sector. For instance, Jason Foster, Chief Investigative Counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, spoke about the IG Empowerment Act, an important piece of legislation sponsored by Iowa Senator Grassley; the Honorable Robert J. Cordy, a former Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, discussed threats to justice systems around the world; and Harry Markopolos, the whistleblower in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme case, gave a valuable presentation about the red flags to look for when investigating large money transactions, such as public pensions.
Also, to ensure that the presentations were beneficial to everyone in the audience, for the first time this year, the conference included breakout sessions. The breakout sessions addressed the more specialized OIGs and covered topics such as challenges in transportation oversight; fighting Medicaid and Medicare fraud and illegal drug diversion; emerging trends in interviewing techniques; and the use of independent monitors to aid IGs in fraud prevention.
While we – the LPC – worked to prepare the conference program, it was the speakers who made the conference such as success. Throughout the conference, attendees repeatedly commented to us on the high caliber of the speakers, praising their obvious preparation, expertise and dedication to good government. We are very thankful to the speakers for volunteering their time and for all of the effort they devoted to preparing such relevant and important presentations. The quality of speakers at the conference and their presentations also speaks to the quality of the AIG membership.
We hope everyone enjoyed the conference and the city of Boston, and we looking forward to seeing everyone in Austin, Texas next year.
Click here for the Boston Conference Agenda