Significant Improvements Seen in Efforts To Collect Debts Owed the Federal Government

AFMD-83-57: Published: Apr 28, 1983. Publicly Released: Apr 28, 1983.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reported on the administration's debt collection initiative, overall collection results for fiscal year (FY) 1982, and prospects for collection in future years. The report focused on collection efforts at the six federal agencies having the highest nontax delinquencies.

GAO stated that, at the start of FY 1982, receivables due from U.S. citizens and organizations totalled $180 billion, of which $33 billion was delinquent. Of this amount, $13 billion could be attributed to nontax delinquencies. As part of the administration's debt collection initiative, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) assigned 16 federal agencies FY 1982 dollar targets for increasing debt collection. This amount represented what OMB expected agencies to collect because of improved debt collection practices rather than because of growing levels of receivables. As a result of the OMB emphasis on strengthening debt collection, five of the six agencies GAO reviewed increased total collections in at least some of their programs during FY 1982. In general, the six agencies tackled such longstanding problems as loan supervision and servicing, effective use of personnel resources, training of field personnel, and proper control and reporting of financial information. GAO concluded that OMB actually collected more debt than was anticipated and has ensured that future debt collection prospects look good. Continued oversight by OMB is imperative to ensure that debt collection receives sustained, high priority attention.

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