Complaints of government fraud often kept confidential

From The Columbus Dispatch Ohioans who want to check out their school district or city won't learn much from a fraud-complaint database maintained by Auditor Dave Yost.

Since lawmakers mandated the list — and limited, specified information — be placed online in 2012, the auditor's office has received nearly 2,500 complaints.

However, nearly 1,500 of the complaints, or 59 percent, are considered confidential by Yost's office since they involve investigations, both current and completed.

Every complaint marked as "in progress" or referred to another agency for a closer look reveals nothing about which governmental entity is involved or the nature of the suspected wrongdoing.

"While we are strong advocates for transparency, we also have a responsibility to follow state law governing law-enforcement records and protect information that must be shielded from disclosure," said Ben Marrison, Yost's spokesman.

The fraud-reporting program that allows tips to be submitted online or through phone calls and emails has led to millions of dollars in audit findings for recovery, criminal convictions and civil actions, he said.

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