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Navy Setting Up Contract Fraud Investigation Unit

The Navy has put together a special investigative unit to look into contracting fraud in the wake of indictments being filed against several defense contractors who attempted to bride Navy procurement officials, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said today.

The move is preemptive one designed to plug any holes in the service's acquisition community that could lead to fraud, according to the secretary.

"The special review team is to look at fraud, bribery, kickbacks, things like that and how to deal with it" Mabus told reporters during the Navy League's annual Sea, Air, Space conference held just outside of Washington, DC. "We had this situation where people had been indicted for giving bribes to Navy shipbuilding officials for preferential treatment. That got my attention as to what we can do to make sure that doesn't get that far again."

"Seeing what was said in the indictment, it's a safety mechanism to make sure we're doing everything we can" to run a clean acquisition shop, said the secretary.

"Anything like that, which has the ability to undermine the confidence in the procurement process, I'm going to go after just as hard as I possibly can," said Mabus who served as a prosecutor in his role as Mississippi's state auditor in the 1980s. "I set up this team to look at ways that, under the procurement system, under our contracting system, we can be as tough as possible within the broader federal rules to hold people accountable."

During a speech earlier in the day, Mabus said the Navy has expanded the use of fact-based suspensions and debarments and that it has "to do more."

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