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In December 2001, GAO testified at a hearing, before the Subcommittee on Government Efficiency, Financial Management and Intergovernmental Relations, House Committee on Government Reform, that the Department of Agriculture, primarily the Rural Housing Service (RHS) and the Farm Service Agency (FSA), faced challenges in implementing key provisions of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA). The testimony focused on RHS's and FSA's progress in referring delinquent debt for administrative offset and cross-servicing and Agriculture's implementation of administrative wage garnishment (AWG). During the hearing, Agriculture pledged to place a higher priority on delinquent debt collection and to substantially improve its implementation of DCIA by December 31, 2002. After the hearing, GAO made recommendations The Subcommittee requested GAO to review and provide an update on actions Agriculture has taken to resolve these problems. In addition, the Subcommittee requested that GAO report on the status of Treasury's implementation of a debt collection improvement account, a vehicle authorized by DCIA to give agencies financial incentives to improve their debt collection efforts.

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