Wisconsin residents who call in tips about waste, fraud, or abuse in state programs and agencies could be in for a big reward, under a bill being considered at the Capitol.
The legislation co-sponsored by state Representative Chad Weininger (R-Green Bay) would create an incentive program for reporting suspected fraudulent activity in state programs and agencies. Those who call state hotlines about the illicit activity would be eligible to receive five percent of the money recovered by the state in connection with the report.
The Green Bay Republican says people have few incentives to blow the whistle right now, and often risk outing family members or friends in doing so. He says providing a reward could help to encourage the public to come forward with valuable information about fraud.
AUDIO: Rep. Chad Weininger (:08)
The state has seen multiple high profile cases of fraud in assistance programs over the past decade, such as child care providers falsifying records to receive payments and FoodShare recipients reselling their benefits or abusing them in other ways. Weininger says spotting these cases will help to preserve benefits for those who truly need them.
While many state agencies already operate waste,fraud, and abuse hotlines, Weininger says they see little activity right now. He’s hoping the possibility of claiming a reward will help to increase calls.
Officials within the Walker administration are raising some concerns about the bill. During a hearing on Wednesday at the Capitol, officials with several state agencies questioned how the rewards would be estimated, if they would be capped, and how the program would be implemented. The current version of the legislation directs the Department of Administration to work out the specifics of they reward system. Sponsors of the bill said they would consider changes to address those issues.
A state Senate committee is currently considering the bill.