One Decline That’s Worth Crowing About

November 26, 2012 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

It’s not often you hear excitement over a decrease (unless you’re talking about losing that dreaded post-Thanksgiving girth), but the Office of Management and Budget is touting the latest figures on improper payments. Although the decline in improper payments during the last fiscal year wasn’t as steep as the prior year, any reduction in improper payments is something worth crowing about, which OMB Controller Danny Werfel has done in a recent blog post.

Werfel states that initiatives such as the President’s Campaign to Cut Waste and Executive Order 13520 have resulted in the elimination of billions of dollars in wasteful improper payments. Now, OMB notes that the governmentwide error rate has decreased to 4.3 percent in fiscal year 2012, down from 4.7 percent in FY 2011. The drop of 4 percentage points is a definite step in the right direction, although it didn’t quite match the 6 percentage point drop from FY 2010 to FY 2011. Still, the improper payment rate has declined significantly from its high-water mark of 5.4 percent in FY 2009.

Werfel acknowledged drastically reduced error rates in major programs across the government, including Medicare Fee-for-Service, Medicaid, Unemployment Insurance, the Earned Income Tax Credit, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Pell Grants and the School Lunch program. Werfel states that the government has avoided more than $47 billion in improper payments during the past three years, which approaches President Obama’s goal of avoiding $50 billion in improper payments by the end of FY 2012.

As an extra bonus, Werfel announced that federal agencies had recaptured $4.4 billion in overpayments to contractors over the last three years, which greatly exceeds the President’s goal of recapturing $2 billion in overpayments by the end of FY 2012.

Werfel goes on to say that the administration “will not rest as long as there is a single dollar of improper payment.” A little overdramatic if you ask me, but it’s a worthy goal. Considering the financial struggles our country is now facing, every reduction in improper payments helps.

What do you think about these numbers? Could they be better? Could more be done to limit improper payments? Let us know.

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