White House wants $10M for portal and operations center

Federal agency officials would use portal to help reduce improper payments

The White House wants $10 million in the fiscal 2012 budget to create an operations center for recovering improper federal payments and to bring into full operation the “Do Not Pay” Web portal, Daniel Werfel, controller of the Office of Management and Budget, told a congressional panel April 15.

An improper federal payment is made in error to a wrong or ineligible party, for the wrong amount, or for the wrong reasons or without proper documentation, including those due to fraud.

The White House has estimated that the federal government made $125 billion in improper payments in fiscal 2010, and has set a target of preventing $50 billion and recapturing $2 billion in such payments by fiscal 2012.

Related stories:

No pulse, no pay: How the Do Not Pay list will work

OMB's PaymentAccuracy.gov tracks improper payments

The administration wants $10 million for the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Public Debt to support both the operations center and the portal, Werfel told a House oversight subcommittee in a statement.

The operations center and portal, once completed, would apply anti-fraud data-mining technology tools used at the Recovery.gov website to target potentially fraudulent, inappropriate or incorrect payments, Werfel said.

“We believe that the Do Not Pay portal will allow federal agencies to utilize technology to access eligibility information in a timely and cost-effective manner and ultimately help reduce improper payments,” Werfel said.

The Do Not Pay portal was created as a result of a June 2010 presidential memorandum. The online portal is intended to provide a way for federal agency officials to check whether or not a potential contractor, grant recipient or individual beneficiary is eligible for receiving federal funds.

Once fully operational, the portal would be linked to relevant eligibility databases, including the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File or the General Services Administration’s Excluded Parties List System.

The initial portal infrastructure is up and running, but it is still in a beta testing phase, Werfel said. Plans for full implementation of the portal in the coming months include pilot testing by federal agencies, the linking of additional databases, and developing capabilities for automating checks of the system by agency information systems, he added. The anti-fraud technology would be implemented in the automation phase, he added.

OMB currently is developing plans for pilot demonstrations with selected federal agencies to test the effectiveness of the Do Not Pay portal. The demonstration projects are expected to be done by Sept. 30, with full implementation of the portal by the end of fiscal 2012, Werfel said.

Werfel said OMB had released an April 14 memo to agencies with guidance on implementing the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2010.

The guidance is intended to ensure that federal agencies properly perform risk assessments, measure and report improper payments, set reduction targets and establish corrective action plans.

In addition, when improper payments are made, the law and the implementing guidance expand the federal agencies’ authorities and their requirements for recapturing improper payments from recipients, Werfel said.

Kay Daly, director of financial management and assurance for the Government Accountability Office, gave an update on federal efforts to reduce and recover improper payments in her testimony.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.


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