Can Congress Move Quickly on Improper Payments?

October 9, 2012 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

In these tight budget times, federal efforts to limit improper payment are crucial. Federal agencies have reported billions of dollars’ worth of misspent funds and are taking major steps to reduce these totals. It’s good to see Congress is taking action too, but will anything come from it?

The House Government and Oversight Committee last month passed H.R. 4053, the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act of 2012, which is the House companion legislation to S. 1409 now in the Senate.  The House bill builds on the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act, which was signed into law in July 2010, and will boost efforts to identify, prevent and recover payment errors, waste, fraud and abuse within federal spending. The bill will expand requirements and strengthen estimates for agencies’ improper payments, mandate the establishment of a governmentwide “Do Not Pay” list, and require a Recovery Audit Contractor pilot program across federal agencies.

“While some agencies have made progress in identifying and reducing improper payments in certain programs, many of the agencies still lack the necessary framework of internal controls that could lead to a sustainable decrease in improper payments,” said Rep. Todd Platts (R-Pa.), one of the sponsors of the bill. “The government must do a better job at identifying the root causes of improper payments. Until we understand how and why these payments are being made, it will be impossible to effectively prevent them.”

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said that the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act of 2012 “takes the federal government’s efforts to the next level” and will give agencies stronger and more effective tools to find, prevent and recover improper payments, whether made in error or due to fraud.

Whether Congress can finalize joint legislation on improper payments during this session remains to be seen, but one would hope that this issue has enough bipartisan support that something can made its way into law sooner rather than later.

What do you think Congress can do reduce improper payments?

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