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Monday, May 07, 2007

Improper payments decline

OMB goes after agencies that have lagged in fulfilling their reporting requirements

Only eight programs run by federal agencies have been reporting their risk of improper payments in the three years since the Bush administration began collecting that information. Thirteen other major agency programs that the Office of Management and Budget determined are most at risk of issuing incorrect payments have not been reporting, but that is about to change, OMB officials said.

The Health and Human Services Department’s Medicaid and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program will begin reporting in fiscal 2008. The Agriculture Department’s National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs and the Federal Communications Commission’s Universal Service Fund’s Schools and Libraries program also will participate, beginning in fiscal 2008.

OMB officials said the eight programs that have been reporting have reduced their improper payments at the same time those programs have grown.

When OMB released the President’s Management Agenda score cards last week, only four of 15 department and agencies — the Housing and Urban Development and Labor departments, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation — received green scores for eliminating improper payments. However, OMB gave only two red scores for improper payments — to HHS and the Treasury Department.

The improper payments rate was 2.9 percent in 2006, down from 3.2 percent in 2005 and 3.9 percent the previous year. The overall amount of improper payments declined from $42.9 billion in 2004 to $35.9 billion last year.

-Mary Mosquera, FCW.com

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