The Public Role of UCOWF
The United Council on Welfare Fraud is an organization whose primary goal is to strengthen the integrity of our public assistance programs. We do that by providing our members with a variety of training and collaboration tools to improve their ability to identify, investigate, prosecute, and recoup fraud committed against the public assistance programs in North America.
We also have a public role. Part of UCOWF's goal in strengthening the integrity of these social programs is by providing a site where the public can learn about our members' efforts to reduce fraud and about ways the public can assist in these efforts.
What We Don't Do
UCOWF is a non-profit organization, not an extension of any government entity; we are not empowered by any authority to investigate fraud. Our members are empowered to take action against suspected fraud by authorities within the boundaries of their own jurisdiction and purview but UCOWF is not an investigative agency nor does membership in UCOWF authorize anyone to conduct investigations into public assistance fraud.
UCOWF does not obtain or develop statistics concerning welfare fraud. Welfare fraud is defined differently by states and provinces and is defined differently between the various programs. Some counties, states and provinces may have specific statutes defining and addressing welfare or public assistance fraud. Others may use more general criminal statutes under which the various forms of welfare fraud are lumped. Given this disparity of definitions, it would be quite tedious and difficult to get a true measure of fraud nationwide for statistical purposes.
UCOWF does not lobby lawmakers; our By-Laws expressly prohibit lobbying activities. We do provide our position and comments to the administrators of our nation's social programs as they refine the way the program functions. We endeavor to work closely with those administrators to push for stronger program integrity measures within the various social program.
Our Public Role
We provide an avenue for the public to report fraud that they suspect is occurring. A report to UCOWF is forwarded to the proper authorities within the state, county or province in which the suspected fraud is occurring.
We will provide news concerning successes our members attain in combating fraud. We will also publicize pending legislation that we believe would weaken the safeguards in place to detect or prevent fraud from occurring. Through commentary, we attempt to provide a 'single voice' to concerns that we believe exist in these taxpayer-funded programs in hopes that the public will carry that message to lawmakers.
Public assistance programs reflect the generous nature of our citizens and the noble idea that helping those less fortunate is characteristic of a civilized society. There are those who will purposefully take advantage of that generosity by committing fraudulent acts, however, and it is that small group that warrants our attention and efforts.
As a taxpayer, you are not given the option of funding these programs so an obligation exists to protect your money from fraud caused by weakened rules that may invite those to take advantage of society's generosity when they are not eligible to do so.