More Vigorous Action Needs To Be Taken To Reduce Erroneous Payments to Recipients of AFDC

GGD-82-15: Published: Nov 9, 1981. Publicly Released: Nov 9, 1981.

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The Income Maintenance Administration (IMA) in the District of Columbia's Department of Human Services (DHS) is responsible for administering the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) Program. GAO assessed the DHS efforts to reduce erroneous payments and concentrated on the AFDC program because it comprises the majority of the IMA workload. GAO examined the erroneous payment problem, including a review of selected AFDC case files, quality control reports, and overpayment reports. GAO also identified and evaluated the effectiveness of DHS policies and practices to prevent or reduce the incidence of erroneous payments, including the DHS Special Initiatives Management System.

IMA is aware of the causes of many AFDC erroneous payments and has developed a plan which, if implemented, could significantly reduce the error rate. However, slow progress in implementing the plan will probably make it impossible for IMA to reduce the current 11-percent rate to the federally mandated 4-percent rate by the end of fiscal year 1982. The IMA plan includes: (1) developing and implementing a workload planning system; (2) recertifying AFDC cases 3 months after application approval; (3) reviewing all AFDC cases not reviewed in the past 12 months; (4) developing and updating policy and procedures manuals; (5) implementing improved training and testing of eligibility workers, supervisors, and clerks; and (6) creating an Office of Management Systems. The District of Columbia has been lax in collecting overpayments and prosecuting welfare fraud to recoup money erroneously paid to recipients. Overpayments occur because of administrative errors by DHS workers and because of misunderstanding or willful deception by recipients. According to DHS personnel, requests for repayment are only made from persons who voluntarily sign restitution agreements. GAO found no evidence that welfare or AFDC fraud has been prosecuted in the District of Columbia since at least 1978.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Mayor of the District of Columbia should direct the Corporation Counsel to develop and prosecute large dollar welfare fraud cases and publicize the results of those successfully prosecuted.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Mayor of the District of Columbia should require the Director, Department of Human Services, to assign a high priority to developing and implementing procedures to immediately collect money erroneously paid to recipients who have the means to make restitution.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Mayor of the District of Columbia should require the Director, Department of Human Services, to reemphasize to the staff the importance of reducing the error rate to the federally mandated 4 percent and take the necessary action to ensure that the Special Initiatives Management System plan is implemented without further delay.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Mayor of the District of Columbia should require the Director, Department of Human Services, to ascertain from the Office of the District Corporation Counsel the type of information needed to prosecute fraud and direct caseworkers to maintain complete and fully documented evidence.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia

 

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