Two bipartisan bills sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper — bills that would help curb improper payments made by the U.S. government — were approved June 13 by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
The bills will head to the full Senate for consideration.
In fiscal 2016, it was estimated that improper payments throughout the federal government totaled more than $144 billion. While the Donald Trump administration has not published a government-wide improper payment rate for fiscal year 2017, GAO and others report that the improper payment rate is essentially unchanged at $141 billion.
“As elected officials, one of our most important responsibilities is to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” said Carper. “That’s why, for years, I have worked to make it a priority across the federal government to root out and eliminate billions of dollars in waste, fraud and abuse. The money saved by these efforts can be put to work funding health care programs or investing in our decades-old infrastructure. However, we know that, year after year, the federal government continues to mismanage billions of dollars through improper payments. To not take action to reduce the mismanagement of taxpayer dollars would simply be irresponsible. With a little hard work and bipartisanship, we can take the common sense steps necessary to reduce improper payments and put these funds to better use for the American people, and that’s exactly what this legislation does.”
“Whether it’s giving agencies the data they need to prevent improper payments to deceased people, or requiring agencies to make more complete estimates of improper payments, these bills move the ball forward in many respects, and I thank the Chairman Johnson and Ranking Member McCaskill for partnering with me to advance these important efforts,” said Carper.
One of Carper’s bills, the Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act (S.2374), which he introduced with Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, seeks to curb improper payments to deceased individuals and provide agencies with more accurate data to accomplish their missions through greater data sharing between agencies. The legislation would build upon improper payment laws by granting federal agencies access to more accurate and complete lists of deceased individuals.
The second piece of legislation, the Payment Integrity Information Act of 2018 (S.2948), which Carper introduced with Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, and Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, would modify and restructure existing improper payments laws to help agencies better identify and reduce the amount of money wasted due to needless government payments.
Specifically, the bill would:
— Require agencies to undertake additional efforts and develop plans to prevent improper payments before they happen.
— Improve the way agencies identify programs with the highest risk of improper payments.
— Require the Office of Management and Budget and the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency to issue guidance to improve annual reporting on agencies’ compliance with improper payments statutes.
— Create a working group that will enable federal agencies to collaborate with each other and non-federal partners, such as state governments, to develop strategies for addressing key drivers of improper payments, such as fraud and eligibility determinations in state-managed federal benefits programs.