Watchdog Year-in-Review: Special reports exposed official waste and incompetence, led to congressional probes and an agency head's resignation

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Mark Tapscott,Watchdog

Seven Special Reports produced by members of the Washington Examiner Watchdog Investigative Reporting team made 2013 an especially productive year.

These special reports provide Watchdog team members the opportunity to dig deep into the causes, effects and possible solutions to some of America's most pressing problems.

These special reports also frequently prompt congressional investigations, and spark other news media organizations to further the reporting with their own resources.

And in the case of Senior Watchdog Reporter Luke Rosiak's October exposé of incredible waste and fraud at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, George Cohen, the agency's director, announced his resignation shortly after the Examiner's series appeared.

The Examiner's special reports began in February with Senior Watchdog Reporter Mark Flatten's "Making America's Heroes Wait," which looked at the massive backlog of unfinished benefits claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Feb. 10-14: Making America's Heroes Wait by Mark Flatten.

"Mike Montgomery is among the more than 1.1 million veterans trapped in bureaucratic limbo waiting for the VA to process claims for disability and pension benefits earned through military service. Many will wait years for an answer."

April 10-12: Camp Lejeune's Toxic Tapwater by Mark Flatten.

"Department of Veterans Affairs officials refuse to recognize proven links between toxic water at Camp Lejeune and diseases that are killing Marines."

June 17-19: Free Ride Feds by Mark Flatten.

"Fraud is rampant in the government employee disability program. Here's how federal employees fraudulently claim disability benefits — and get away with it."

Aug. 5-9: Dereliction of Duty by Mark Flatten.

"How veterans preference fraud costs taxpayers millions of dollars every year because hardly anybody is minding the store."

Oct. 1-7: Just Sign Here by Luke Rosiak.

"Federal workers at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service are maxing out at taxpayers' expense."

Nov. 7-11: Enrichment At The Public Till by Luke Rosiak.

"How Republicans in Congress steered billions to a chronically failing privatized arm of the government created during the Clinton administration to assure nuclear power plants of needed materials."

Dec. 9-13: America's Not-So-Friendly Skies by Neil McCabe.

"Airline deregulation is proving to be largely a myth as continued federal control of the commercial aviation system is centralizing flights and related services in 29 'hubs', at the expense of more than 100 other airports serving large cities across America."

Mark Tapscott is executive editor of The Washington Examiner.
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