Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) reacted strongly to the
July 9, 2014 Government Accountability Office report
that exposed $105.8 billion in improper payments for fiscal year (FY)
2013. The payments occurred in 84 programs across 18 agencies, including
perennial offenders such as Medicare fee-for-service, Medicaid, and the
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
Since its inception in 1984, CAGW has supported efforts to tighten the
reins on improper payments. According to GAO, improper payments
decreased from $121 billion in FY 2010 to $107.1 billion in FY 2012.
However, GAO included a caveat that "For fiscal year 2013, GAO
identified the federal government's inability to determine the full
extent to which improper payments occur and reasonably assure that
appropriate actios are taken to reduce them as a material weakness in
internal controls. In fiscal year 2013, four agencies did not report
estimates for four risk-susceptible programs, including the Department
of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Temporary Assistance for Needy
Families (TANF) program." In addition, GAO determined that the
Department of Defense was plagued with material deficiencies when
estimating its improper payments.
"Taxpayers deserve answers as to how their money is spent in
Washington," said CAGW President Tom Schatz. "At a time when the
national debt has soared to $17.5 trillion, the federal government would
be well-served to take stronger action to reduce improper payments."
Congress passed two bills since 2010 to deal with the exposure and
eradication of improper payments, the Improper Payments Elimination and
Recovery Act of 2010, and the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery
Improvement Act of 2012. Even so, the dollar amount of estimated
improper payments has remained virtually steady at or above $100 billion.
The Office of Management and Budget has set benchmarks to reach an
improper payment error rate of 3 percent or less government-wide by the
end of FY 2016. Yet, in at least one of the most error-prone areas of
federal spending, Medicare fee-for-service, the improper payment rate is
on the rise. In FY 2013, improper payments jumped to 10.1 percent, up
from 8.3 percent in FY 2012. Even as the improper payment rates rose,
CMS has suspended its most effective anti-waste tools, the highly
successful auditing tool known as Recovery Audit Contractor program.
Against Government Waste is the nation's largest nonpartisan,
nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and
mismanagement in government.
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