Improper Government Payments: $115 Billion
Here’s a stat you’ll probably not enjoy reading:
In the past fiscal year, the federal government estimates that it has made $115 billion in improper payments.
That’s billions, not millions.
First, to be clear: Not all improper payments represent fraud. Many result from government overpayments or other errors, according to a government website, www.paymentaccuracy.gov.
The high-error programs include Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — vital support systems for millions of Americans.
Here at the Recovery Board, we have technology in our Recovery Operations Center that might be of service to other agencies seeking to prevent improper payments.
The ROC, as it is known, can be used for analysis at all stages of a contract award: Pre-award, at-award, post-award, and pre-payment.
Right now, we are using the ROC to identify irregularities or other problems in Recovery Act awards.
But the Board stands ready to assist other federal agencies in overseeing all of their spending. The Board recently began discussions with the Treasury Department, which is developing similar technology for identifying payments that should not be made.
We are also conducting pilot projects with several agencies and Inspectors General, permitting them to do risk assessments and analysis on Recovery awards.
Down the road, it’s possible we could play a major role across government if the proposed DATA Act is enacted by Congress.
The DATA Act would create a new agency known as the Federal Accountability and Spending Transparency Board. The FAST Board would absorb the Recovery Board’s functions and be given the responsibility to collect and display all government spending data for federal contracts, grants and loans.
I’ll be discussing improper payments, the DATA Act and other subjects when I testify on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, February 7, before the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on government organization, efficiency and financial management.
– Michael Wood, Executive Director, Recovery Board