White House vows to reduce improper payments

OMB official responds to senator's report

The White House has pledged to eliminate $50 billion in improper payments by 2012, and Jeffrey Zients, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, explains how in a post on the White House blog.

The post came in reaction to a report that Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) released Oct. 29 showing more than $1 billion in benefits payments to dead people.

White House officials estimated that total improper payments made by the government were $110 billion in 2009, Zients wrote in the blog post, published the same day.

Zients said President Barack Obama has worked to rein in the improper payments by:

  • Issuing an executive order on Nov. 19, 2009, that outlines strategies for boosting transparency, holding agencies accountable and creating strong incentives for compliance.
  • Issuing a presidential memorandum on March 10 directing all federal departments and agencies to expand and intensify their use of payment recapture audits aimed at rooting out improper payments.
  • Announcing plans to cut the improper payment rate in the Medicare fee-for-service program in half by 2012, which would eliminate more than $20 billion in payment errors.
  • Issuing a memo June 18 that directs that a Do Not Pay list be established to provide a single source through which all agencies can check the status of a potential contractor or individual.
  • On July 22, signing the bipartisan Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (IPERA) into law, which will strengthen and complement the efforts already undertaken to reduce improper payments.

"There is still more work to be done as the team here works hard to implement these new strategies and the IPERA legislation," Zients wrote. "We welcome Senator Coburn’s highlighting of this important issue and look forward to continue working with Congress to reduce improper payments, combat fraud, cut waste, and make government more effective and efficient."

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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