Improper Payments:

Posthearing Responses on a December 5, 2006, Hearing to Assess the Improper Payments Information Act of 2002

GAO-07-533R: Published: Feb 27, 2007. Publicly Released: Feb 27, 2007.

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McCoy Williams
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On December 5, 2006, we testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, at a hearing entitled, "An Assessment of Improper Payments Information Act of 2002." At the end of the hearing, Congress asked us to provide information regarding (1) barriers inhibiting agencies' efforts to prevent and reduce improper payments, (2) legislative reforms needed to facilitate agencies' efforts to prevent improper payments, and (3) suggested language to amend the Improper Payments Information Act of 2002 (IPIA) that would provide more complete disclosure and transparency of agencies' improper payments reporting.

First, we identified several key barriers that agencies encounter in their quest to reduce improper payments, such as the inability to share data and restrictions in the program's administration. Second, regarding legislative reforms, the Budgets of the U.S. Government for Fiscal Years 2008 and 2007 include proposed actions to facilitate better measurement and detection of improper payments. We continue to support the administration's proposed legislative reforms that assist agency action to reduce improper payments, such as imposing penalties for fraud, improving benefit coordination between agencies, and simplifying eligibility requirements. Lastly, we reported in November 2006 that the Office of Management and Budget's broad implementation of IPIA's general criteria to identify risk-susceptible programs limits the disclosure and transparency of governmentwide improper payments. This limitation does not further the objectives of IPIA, as programs that do not meet OMB's criteria of exceeding $10 million and 2.5 percent of program payments are excluded from agencies' improper payment reporting.

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