Improper Payments: Moving Forward with Governmentwide Reduction Strategies Page: 3 of 25
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Chairman Platts, Ranking Member Towns, and Members of the
Thank you for the opportunity to be here today to discuss the issue of
improper payments in federal programs and activities, including efforts by
federal agencies to identify and reduce improper payments.1 As the
steward of taxpayer dollars, the federal government is accountable for
how its agencies and grantees spend hundreds of billions of taxpayer
dollars annually, including safeguarding those expenditures against
improper payments, and establishing mechanisms to recover those funds
when overpayments occur. It is important to note that not all of the
reported improper payment estimates represent a loss to the government.
For example, errors consisting of insufficient or lack of documentation are
included in the improper payment estimates. Over the past decade, we
have issued numerous reports and testimonies highlighting improper
payment issues across the federal government as well as at specific
Today, my testimony will focus on:
* federal agencies' reported progress in estimating and reducing
improper payments, and
* remaining challenges in meeting current requirements to estimate and
report improper payments.
I will also provide observations on actions that can be taken to move
forward with improper payment reduction strategies.
lit is important to recognize that improper payment estimates reported by federal agencies
in fiscal year 2011 are not intended to be an estimate of fraud in federal agencies'
programs and activities. An improper payment is defined as any payment that should not
have been made or that was made in an incorrect amount (including overpayments and
underpayments) under statutory, contractual, administrative, or other legally applicable
requirements. It includes any payment to an ineligible recipient, any payment for an
ineligible good or service, any duplicate payment, any payment for a good or service not
received (except for such payments where authorized by law), and any payment that does
not account for credit for applicable discounts. Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
guidance also instructs agencies to report as improper payments any payments for which
insufficient or no documentation was found.
2See the Related GAO Products list at the end of this statement for a selection of the
products related to these issues.
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Improper Payments: Moving Forward with Governmentwide Reduction Strategies, text, February 7, 2012; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc302498/m1/3/: accessed November 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.