Sneak Preview: Procedures Sought at USDA Agencies To Help Reduce Improper Payments

September 12, 2013 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xsass_bookshot(The following was excerpted from an article in the Single Audit Information Service.) Current eligibility procedures used by three Department of Agriculture agencies to determine eligibility for benefits are not preventing them from making improper payments to deceased individuals, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report.

The Farm Service Agency has made progress in reducing improper payments to deceased individuals in its farm commodity and crop disaster assistance programs; however, GAO noted that FSA could reduce this error rate even further with additional monitoring.

FSA provides benefits to farmers through various programs, including farm commodity and crop disaster assistance programs authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill. In a 2007 report, GAO recommended that FSA implement management controls, such as matching payment files with the Social Security Administration’s death master file, to verify that an individual receiving payments has not died and to provide reasonable assurance that the agency does not make improper payments to deceased individuals.

Moreover, the 2008 Farm Bill required FSA to adopt regulations that describe the circumstances under which payments may, in fact, be issued in the name of a deceased individual, prevent payments to ineligible individuals and, at least twice each year, reconcile social security numbers of all individuals who receive commodity program payments against SSA’s death master file.

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