The Small Business Administration's inspector general reported that tens of billions of dollars have been lost to "widespread fraud" under the COVID-era Economic Injury Disaster Loan, but "fraud" is apparently a dirty word that no one is suppose to use like Voldemort.
In an apparent attempt to dodge accountability and, more specifically, public records requests -- employees have been told not to flag fraudulent paperwork as "fraud."
Workers reviewing requests for the Small Business Administration’s Covid-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan program have instead been told by managers to use alternative phrases, such as “duplicate,” according to four people who received the instructions and asked not to be identified discussing internal policies. The terms varied among teams and could be misleading, the people said. [...]
SBA loan officers stationed around the U.S., speaking on the condition they not be named, said that in recent weeks superiors have admonished them, usually verbally, not to use “fraud” when making internal notations about applications. One manager remarked to staff that “fraud is the new ‘F’ word,” according to one of the people.
Two people said managers cited concerns that loan officers’ notes could be subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Another person said a manager explained “fraud” was banned because it could eventually become public through lawsuits. It’s unclear which lawsuits. Loan officers aren’t expected to prove fraud, only to flag suspect applications, which could also contribute to the reticence.
Given that the Biden administration will take control of the Small Business administration in two months and will undoubtedly comply with most public records requests without requiring a lawsuit, I'd say the only real goal here is to save face. This is an agency run by another Trump sycophant who doesn't want the record to look bad for herself or for Trump. SBA administrator Jovita Carranza blasted the inspector general after his investigation found widespread fraud.
Refusing to appropriately flag suspect applications right now just means the Biden-era SBA will have to work backwards and comb over applications that were already reviewed.
It's going to take the entire next year to even unravel the labyrinth of boobytraps and administrative fart jokes left behind by the Trump regime.