Congress can help federal agencies reduce the billions of dollars in improper payments they make annually through new legislation and providing investigators with access to particular databases, among other actions, the nation's comptroller general said at a Senate Finance Committee hearing last week.
The imminent dissolution of the Treasury Department's board that researches improper federal payments will create a gap in oversight, according to a Sept. 14 Government Accountability Office report.
In an effort to curb improper payments and save the government billions of dollars, new legislation would require agencies to share data with Congress.
After several years of declining improper payments, federal agencies saw a $19 billion increase, according to testimony at a March 16 Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing.
Congress and the agencies addressed about 30 percent of the problems the Government Accountability Office identified over the last four years, says a March 4 GAO report. Since its 2011 annual report, GAO identified about 440 actions that needed to be taken across 180 areas. The issues span the range of government services and programs, from the Medicare and Medicaid programs to transportation programs to weapon systems acquisitions, the report says.
The General Services Administration is seeking industry feedback on best practices for its governmentwide commercial payment system, says a Dec. 10 GSA statement. The request for information is meant help the agency develop GSA SmartPay 3, a new iteration of the governmentwide payment and charge card program, the statement says.
Agency inspectors general have made progress tracking improper payments, which were reduced by about $1.3 billion between fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2013, says a Dec. 9 Government Accountability Office report. Inspectors general are required to audit for improper payments, which totaled $105.8 billion in fiscal 2013, through the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2010.
The Office of Management and Budget is pushing agencies to do more to reduce improper payments at agencies. Since coming into office, President Obama has signed two laws and issued three directives on how agencies can reduce improper payments. Those have culminated in improper payments declining governmentwide, an Oct. 20 OMB memo (pdf) says.
Billions of dollars in delinquent taxes are being lost because of improper research and procedures at the Internal Revenue Service, according to an internal investigation. In an audit (pdf) dated Aug. 25, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that cases involving $6.7 billion were closed after being labeled "currently not collectible" or "unable to contact or unable to locate."
The Veterans Affairs Department is making millions in improper disability payments because it isn't following up on initial decisions to make sure the claims are thoroughly reviewed, a June 6 VA inspector general report says. As of Jan. 8 Veterans Benefits Administration data showed the agency had identified over 8,300 temporary disability claims for regional offices to review.