Over the past three years, MSHA has issued over 500 safety violations to Bell & Macy, the owner of the Upper Centralia Coal Mine, primarily for excessive coal dust and inadequate rock dusting. Coal dust increases the chance of an explosion; rock dusting decreases it. Bell & Macy can challenge a violation; those challenges take an average of two years to be resolved in a hearing conducted by an administrative law judge at the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission (FMSHRC), after which, if the violation is upheld, a ?final order? is issued. If, however, MSHA alleges and an administrative law judge upholds a ?pattern of violations? based on a series of final order violations, MSHA can withdraw all the workers in that company?s mines until each violation is fixed, unless a mine owner reduces the number of violations by 30 percent within 90 days, or below the industry average for mines of similar type and size.
Bell & Macy contested 77 percent of the violations it was issued during this period, and then, after losing virtually all of those contests, within 90 days reduced its serious violations enough to avoid the ?pattern of violations? penalty.
You are concerned about this situation, and have decided to go forward with an investigation of the MSHA?s treatment of the UCC Mine as well as an audit of MSHA?s mine safety program.
1) write an investigation plan: what questions do you want your investigators to ask of the MSHA officials and/or Bell & Macy officials?
2) write an audit plan: what are the goals or objectives of the audit? What evidence will you want to examine? Do you anticipate any weaknesses, limitations, or constraints in the evidence you expect to review, and if so, how do you intend to deal with those problems?
You are the new Amtrak IG. In reviewing audits by previous Amtrak IGs, you see that Amtrak has a history of overpayments to contractors, some of which have been recouped. However, the pattern of overpayments appears to continue. With the $1.3 billion in federal stimulus funds awarded to Amtrak in 2009, you are especially anxious to detect any such overpayments in that context, and to prevent any more. You found that one of your predecessors, Fred Weiderhold, attempted to investigate possibly inappropriate payments by Amtrak for expenses incurred by the manager of the Moynihan Station project in New York, including the rental of an apartment for the manager and his payments for various lobbyists and consultants. However, although Amtrak?s stimulus money included $5 million that was designated for use by its OIG, Amtrak?s Counsel has advised you that you will only be permitted access to Amtrak documents after Counsel has screened and possibly redacted them; you are not permitted contact with Congress without Counsel?s approval; and you must submitted a budget, including details of the reasons for each expenditure, for any portion of the $5 million that you made need before it will be made available to you for your investigations. Given that Amtrak fired Weiderhold after his many years of service as IG, then briefly replaced him with Lorraine Green, and then replaced her with Ted Alves, all in 2009, what strategy and tactics will you use to improve the integrity with which Amtrak utilizes taxpayers? money?
You are the SEC IG in 2002. A staff attorney has come to you in confidence, concerned about the Commission?s decision to reject the emergency action the enforcement staff had recommended halting the sale of stock of the Magnum Telecommunications Company. Magnum had paid $3.35 billion in fees in 2001 to lease phone networks from an even larger telecommunications company, and sold long-distance time on those networks to smaller telephone companies. The staff attorney felt that treating that leased time as an asset rather than as an expense improperly ? and on a grand scale ? misled Magnum?s investors by understating its operating costs and thus inflating its profits, which it stated as $1.4 billion for the year. What is your response, and why?
What do you see as the chief deficiencies of the 1978 IG Act as amended through 2008? What further amendments would you recommend?
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