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Friday, April 07, 2006

Progress cutting improper payments may be overstated (4/6/06)

"Erroneous payments by federal agencies decreased in 2005, largely because of reductions in mistaken Medicare payments. But that drop primarily reflects improvements in record-keeping, government auditors said at a Wednesday hearing.

A review of fiscal 2005 data reported to the Office of Management and Budget shows that agencies are making progress in identifying improper payments, defined as those made mistakenly to ineligible applicants, or as a result of fraud or other error.

The reported governmentwide reduction of almost $7 billion in improper payments -- a 16 percent drop over the previous year's level -- was driven mainly by a $9.6 billion decrease in the Medicare program, said McCoy Williams, director of financial management and assurance at GAO. "

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