Only one of six departments or agencies that GAO reviewed was in full compliance with requirements under law and OMB guidance to analyze the root causes of improper payments and develop corrective actions, a report said.
GAO examined eight programs of the SSA and the VA, HHS, Education, Treasury and Agriculture with at least $1 billion in annual improper payment estimates and found that only the VA was in full compliance, regarding its prosthetic and sensory aids service.
Among the others, for example, it said that the Treasury was using outdated data to identify causes of improper payments in the earned income tax credit program; that Treasury further did not develop corrective action plans corresponding to the identified root causes of improper payments in that program and that USDA also lacked such a plan for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; and that the other three “did not have processes in place to either establish planned completion dates, monitor progress, or measure the effectiveness of their corrective actions in reducing improper payments.”
“Unless agencies develop corrective action plans that correspond to root causes of improper payments and implement processes to monitor progress and measure their effectiveness, their ability to ensure that their efforts will reduce improper payments will be limited,” it said.
The report is the latest of several recent developments regarding the long-running issue of improper payments, which under the law includes not only overpayments but also underpayments and correct payments that are not properly documented. GAO reported that the government-wide estimate of such payments increased from $151 billion to $175 billion over 2018-2019, while a law (P.L. 116-117) was enacted to improve efforts to better identify and reduce improper payments and consolidate prior laws and guidance.
Improper Payments Rise to $175 Billion (3/12/2020)