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Archive Items...


Health Care Fraud: Media accounts (prior to 2014) quoting Malcolm Sparrow, or citing his work include:

December 19, 2013: Inlander: "A Law to Nowhere" Daniel Walters
October 21, 2013: Chicago Tribune & Forbes: "What's Wrong With Private Insurance?" Tomas Philipson
July 26, 2013: Washington Post: "Budget cuts force scale back of health care fraud investigations" Fred Schulte
Dec. 2, 2012: Atlanta Journal Constitution: "Fake Medical Providers slip through Medicare loophole"Michael Pell
November 14th, 2012: "Preserve Benefits: Cut Gouging & Inequities" Op-Ed by Ralph Nader
February 1st, 2012: Eurasia Review: "Follow the Bills" Op-Ed by Ralph NaderNovember 19th, 2011: Fast Company: "Cracking Down on $70 Billion Worth of Medicare Fraud" by Tristam Korten
November 14th, 2011: Associated Press: "Report shows federal health officials struggle to monitor myriad of Medicare fraud contractors" by Kelli Kennedy
July 12th, 2011: Associated Press: "Feds' Health Care AntiFraud Systems Failing" by Kelli Kennedy
July 4th, 2011: National Journal: "Entitlement Bandits" by Michael F. Cannon
April 13th, 2011: Reuters: "Special Report: Taking on the Real Miami Vice: HealthCare Fraud." by Tom Brown.
January 4th, 2011: Time Magazine: "Washington Ratchets Up the Fight Against Medicare Fraud."
September 1, 2010: The Cato Institute, on "Medicare Reforms."
July 16, 2010: CBS 60 Minutes, reporting Russian Organized Crime ring busted for $251 million Medicare fraud.
January 11,2010: NBC Nightly News & MSNBC's Daily Nightly, "Battling the Medicare Fraud Epidemic."
October 30,2009: Forbes, "What's Wrong with Private Insurance?"
October 26, 2009: Fox Business/America's Nightly Scoreboard, "Fraud & Reform: Two Sides of Health Care." (video)
October 23,2009: American Spectator, "Medi-fraud for everyone."
October 2, 2009: Wall Street Journal, "Making the World Safe for Medicaid Fraud."
August 28, 2009: Wall Street Journal Digital Network/Smart Money, "Claim Denied? Fraud Score may be to Blame."
August 24, 2009: Senator Tom Coburn claims 20% of Medicare funds are lost to fraud. examines claim.
August 18, 2009: Fox Business/America's Nightly Scoreboard, "Cost of Medical Fraud." (video)
August 7, 2009: CNN American Morning: "Health Care Reform--Forgetting Fraud?"
August 21, 2008: New York Times, "Report Rejects Medicare Boast of Paring Fraud." (on measuring loss rates)
June 13, 2008: Washington Post, on "The Growing Problem of Medical Fraud"
October 11, 2007: NPR's Morning Edition, examining structural failings of existing fraud controls in the health care system.
.....listen to the audio segment, or review the (more detailed) transcript
November 2011

How to Steal Millions of Dollars from Medicare, in 6 easy steps...

Tristam Korten, writing for Fast Company explains it here: "How to commit Medicare Fraud in Six Easy Steps" November 22nd, 2011. Following Korten's guide (and thereby emulating thousands of others who have got rich quick at Medicare's expense) carries very little risk of detection or prosecution. In fact, as Korten explains, the government's standard responses to the threat of such scams actually helps the perpetrators clean up their (fake) billings, making their fraud schemes more robust and harder to detect in the future.

Tristam Korten is in fact a responsible journalist, and no doubt figures he's not creating any new dangers by explaining all this on the web. There is plenty of evidence, after all, that the crooks already know these basic truths about the Medicare system, and the equivalent vulnerabilities of many other highly automated public payment programs.

The following recent articles and testimony, by Malcolm Sparrow, relate directly to the threat posed by scams of the type Korten describes; and explain the fundamental shift in thinking required to control them effectively.

(1) "An e-ripoff of the U.S.: Disbursing public funds electronically sets up the federal government to be victimized by massive fraud" Los Angeles Times, August 21, 2011.

(2) "Criminal Prosecution as a Deterrent to Health Care Fraud" Testimony, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime & Drugs, May 20th, 2009.

(3) "Fraud in the U.S. Health Care System: Exposing the Vulnerabilities of Automated Payment Systems"
Social Research: An International Quarterly of the Social Sciences, Vol. 75, No. 4, Winter 2008. pp1151-1180

(4) "Why are Dead Doctors Allowed to Practice?" Miami Herald, Thursday September 4th, 2008.
August 2011
Op-ed by Malcolm Sparrow, August 21, 2011. Los Angeles Times, "An e-ripoff of the U.S.: Disbursing public funds electronically sets up the federal government to be victimized by massive fraud"

Last week, a Los Angeles jury convicted a local pastor and his wife of fraudulently claiming $14.2 million from Medicare. The culprits recruited parishioners to help run fake durable medical equipment companies, and spent the proceeds on expensive cars and other luxuries. Assistant U.S. Atty. Gen. Lanny A. Breuer described their efforts as "persistent and brazen" and said "they treated the Medicare program like a personal till." Read the complete article. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
August 2011

GRumbler update

Malcolm Sparrow has upgraded the GRumbler in response to requests from GRumbler users who needed greater capacity than the original version offered.The new version (released August 2nd 2011) can handle class-sizes up to 5000, allows users to define up to 20 different types of conflict variables, and can generate up to 50 successive sets of group assignments. For users working on very large classes (over 1000) or who want to conduct truly exhaustive searches for optimal distributions, additional speed is also available by installing the TurboGrumbler.exe (a precompiled executable file) as an optional extra. See TurboGrumbler Information & Installation Instructions.

Note: with the upgraded GRumbler.xls file (August 2011 version), the majority of users will not need to use the TurboGrumbler.

Malcolm Sparrow has created the GRumbler (or "Group Rumbler") to help with the frustratingly complex and inherently mathematical task of dividing classes of students into small groups for the purposes of group discussions, exercises, or project work--groups which are simultaneously balanced in terms of gender, nationality, experience, job description, or any other factors that course administrators deem important as a basis upon which to optimize mixing.

The GRumbler was first released in January 2011, and has been featured twice by columnist Natalie Houston in the "ProfHacker" column she writes for the Chronicle of Higher Education. Read the ProfHacker articles here (3rd May 2011) and here (25th August 2011).

Brian Moynihan, of UNC's School of Medicine, discovered the GRumbler through the ProfHacker article, and has created an excellent 11-minute instructional video, demonstrating the GRumbler's functionality. See his GRumbler YouTube video.
June 2011
Conference on the Future of Regulatory Supervision, Delft, The Netherlands

Professor Sparrow delivered the Keynote Address at the Congress on Supervision & Science held in Delft on June 21st & 22nd 2011. In his address, Professor Sparrow commended the Dutch regulatory community for its effectiveness in bridging between the worlds of theory & practice, and on pursuing a more promising reform path than that embodied in the wider European movement on "Better Regulation." He also thanked Professor Ferdinand Mertens (host) personally for his extraordinary contributions over several decades to our understanding of the importance and complexity of the role of the professional regulator. (See the Conference introduction to Professor Sparrow's speech here.)

During his visit to the Netherlands (June 19th-24th), Professor Sparrow also worked with the Dutch National Bank and the Authority for Financial Markets (AFM) on their risk-based supervision programs.
May 2011
May 11th, 2011: The Nation publishes "Stop the Bleeding: An Interview with Medicare Fraud Expert Malcolm Sparrow," by Sasha Abramsky

[Extract]....Malcolm Sparrow, a professor of public management at Harvard's Kennedy School and the author, most recently, of License to Steal:How Fraud Bleeds America's Health Care System, has long argued that government agencies underestimate the scale of a fraud epidemic that he believes costs taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars annually. His work suggests that better fraud control systems can help significantly trim government budgets without impacting services. Such ideas are of peculiar importance in this era of public-sector austerity.

Read the summary version of the interview, published by The Nation. Read the full interview here.
March 2011
Recovery Independent Advisory Panel's Recommendations published (on

The first set of formal recommendations issued by the Recovery Independent Advisory Panel (RIAP), relating to the integrity of the Stimulus (ARRA) funding, were posted on the website on Tuesday March 22nd. The Advisory Panel was appointed by President Obama in March 2010, and Professor Sparrow is Deputy Chair. The Panel's recommendations were presented to the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (RATB) at a Board meeting held in Washington DC on March 4th, 2011. The Board has taken the Panel's seven recommendations under advisement, and the Board Chairman, Earl Devaney, has directed the Board's staff to determine the steps necessary to implement as many of the recommendations as possible. This set of recommendations from the Advisory Panel relate to the need for fuller reporting of the tax and entitlement portions of the Stimulus spending, and fraud, waste and abuse issues associated therewith; adoption of valid measurement methods (incorporating random or representative audits) for estimating overpayment and loss rates; and increased transparency regarding measured loss rates (as envisaged by the Improper Payments Act of 2002), where available, in relation to programs which Stimulus funds have been used to augment or to which Stimulus funds have been applied.

March 2011
International Regulatory Reform Conference, Amsterdam.

Professor Sparrow delivered the Keynote Address to conclude the International Regulatory Reform Conference, held in Amsterdam on March 10th & 11th 2011. The conference was the fourth in a series of European annual conferencess on regulatory reform, and was organized by the Bertelsmann Stiftung (Germany) in cooperation with the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation. The central purpose of the conference was to determine the future direction of the "Better Regulation" movement in Europe and throughout the OECD. Download IRRC conference program.
January 2011
“Governing Science” published by National Institute of Justice.

Malcolm K. Sparrow's paper, "Governing Science," critiques the claims of the Evidence-Based Policy movement, and Evidence-Based Policing in particular, urging practitioners to appreciate and embrace a broader range of scientific and analytical contributions from academia. The paper contrasts the modes of inquiry employed within the Natural Sciences and the Social Sciences, and concludes the police profession needs to pursue a lot more of the former, and that the claims of social science and criminology to be the arbiters of "what works in crime control" should be moderated through a broader appreciation of diverse investigative, analytic, inquiry, and intelligence techniques more closely aligned with the practical and operational demands of the police profession. The paper has relevance to many professions beyond policing, and should appeal to scholars and practitioners eager to understand the contribution and limitations of the broader evidence-based policy movement.

"Governing Science" is published as a product of the second "Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety," a collaboration of NIJ and HKS' Program on Criminal Justice Policy & Management. NIJ website provides free pdf.

March 2010

Professor Sparrow appointed by President Obama to the Recovery Independent Advisory Panel

Press Release by Doug Gavel: Harvard Kennedy School Professor Malcolm Sparrow has been named by the White House to the Recovery Independent Advisory Panel, charged with monitoring the integrity of the national stimulus program spending. The $787 billion package, passed by Congress last year, was designed to pull the nation out of the recession, but has come under fire for alleged waste and abuse. Sparrow says the panel will help ensure that the money is well spent. "The intention is to have some outside-government experts offer strategic advice to the administration about protecting the integrity of the stimulus package spending," Sparrow says. "I assume the threats to be protected against include fraud, waste, abuse, bogus performance reporting, bogus evaluation, diversion, and lack of transparency in purpose or allocation."

Information about the other members of the Panel, and its work, can be found on Recovery.Gov
December 2009
Professor Sparrow testifies to House Committee on Financial Services, on Control of the Risks
associated with Internet Gambling

Read Malcolm Sparrow's testimony (December 3rd, 2009), and report (12/2/2009). Watch video of testimony.
September 2009
"One Week in Heron City" Case Studies published by National Institute of Justice

Malcolm Sparrow's sequence of cases entitled "One Week in Heron City," are designed to serve as a basis for discussion regarding: (a) the relationships among a range of contemporary policing strategies (including: Community Policing, Problem-Oriented Policing, Compstat, Intelligence-Led Policing & Evidence-Based Policing), and (b) the nature of analytic support that modern operational policing requires. These cases are the first papers to be published as products of the second "Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety," a collaboration of NIJ and the Kennedy School of Government.

Free downloads of Heron City Part (A) & Part (B) are available from the Kennedy School's Program on Criminal Justice Policy & Management website, and a "Teaching Note" is also available on request.
May 2009
Professor Sparrow testifies to Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime & Drugs, regarding "Criminal Prosecution as a Deterrent to Health Care Fraud"

Read Malcolm Sparrow's testimony on HKS website (May 20th, 2009), or on the Committee website.
September 2008
"Managing Risks in Civil Aviation: A Review of the FAA's Approach to Safety" published by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Malcolm K. Sparrow (principal author), Edward W. Stimpson (Chair), J. Randolph Babbitt,
William O. McCabe, Carl W. Vogt. Report of the Independent Review Team, a Blue Ribbon Panel appointed by Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters. Washington D.C., September 2nd, 2008. Download report (pdf).
June 2008
HKS Virtual Book Tour features "The Character of Harms: Operational Challenges in Control"

Malcolm Sparrow's latest book, published in April 2008 by Cambridge University Press, is featured on the Harvard Kennedy School's Virtual Book Tour. Professor Sparrow introduces the book in a short video.
May 2008

HKS Insight Series features interview with Malcolm Sparrow on "Controlling Risk"

Read Doug Gavel's interview (June 5th) with Malcolm Sparrow regarding his research and teaching on operational risk control. Also see a video extract of the interview.


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