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Highlights

Fiscal year 2006 was the first year that the Department of Defense (DOD) reported improper payment information for its travel program under the Improper Payments Information Act of 2002 (IPIA). For fiscal year 2006, DOD reported obligations of approximately $8.5 billion for travel. Congress mandated that GAO assess the reasons why DOD is not fully in compliance with IPIA related to travel expenditures. In May 2007, GAO issued an initial report in response to this mandate. To further respond, GAO assessed (1) the completeness and accuracy of DOD's fiscal year 2006 IPIA travel disclosure in its performance and accountability report (PAR), and (2) DOD's planned efforts to improve and refine its processes for estimating and reporting on travel improper payments. To complete this work, GAO reviewed DOD's IPIA reporting, IPIA, Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) IPIA implementing guidance, and met with cognizant DOD officials.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense In order to improve the usefulness and completeness of IPIA reporting for DOD's travel program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the DOD Comptroller to establish and implement policies and procedures to reliably identify the complete population of DOD travel payments.
Closed - Implemented
In March 2010, DOD transitioned to the Defense Travel System for all travel payments. With that transition complete, DOD has a more relable basis for determining the full population of travel payments from which to estimate the extent of any DOD-wide improper travel payments. Consequently, for the first time, in DOD's fiscal year 2010 Performance and Accountability Report dated November 15, 2010, DOD identified a complete population of DOD travel payments; totalling about $9.3 billion.
Department of Defense In order to improve the usefulness and completeness of IPIA reporting for DOD's travel program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the DOD Comptroller to establish and implement policies and procedures to report a valid improper payment estimate for the population.
Closed - Implemented
In March 2010, DOD's Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (OUSD) (Comptroller) issued guidance for developing and reporting improper travel payment estimates in accordance with OMB guidance. As a result, DOD's fiscal year 2010 Performance Accountability Report, dated November 15, 2010, provided more complete and accurate information on the extent of its improper payments related to travel.
Department of Defense In order to improve the usefulness and completeness of IPIA reporting for DOD's travel program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the DOD Comptroller to develop and implement guidance for the preparation of improper payment estimates, to include (1) how to compute a statistically valid estimate of improper payments, and (2) the consideration of risk factors associated with vulnerability to improper payments.
Closed - Implemented
In November 2007, DOD issued guidance to better ensure statistically valid reporting of the extent of the Department's improper travel payment estimates. Specifically, the guidance established procedures for ensuring components' sampling plans for travel payments provided for statistically valid reporting on improper payment estimates, including provisions for reviewing components' risk assessment analysis.
Department of Defense In order to improve the usefulness and completeness of IPIA reporting for DOD's travel program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the DOD Comptroller to establish and implement policies and procedures specifying actions to oversee the data collection process for travel improper payments to be included in the annual PAR, including, at a minimum: (1) periodic reviews of processes used by components to prepare improper payment estimates, and (2) reviews of information reported in the improper payment survey to assure that the population being reported is complete, and the improper payment estimate data reported are reliable and complete.
Closed - Implemented
In May 2008, the DOD Comptroller instituted procedures providing for quarterly asssessments of the componetns' data collection and reporting for travel improper payments.

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