Acknowledging that American families are “cutting every thrill and stretching every dollar,” President Obama said they should “expect no less from their government,” and signed the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act into law.
“Which, translated into English, meanings cutting down on waste, fraud and abuse, and ensuring that our government serves as a responsible steward for the tax dollars of the American people,” President Obama said from the signing in the State Dining Room today.
Improper payments are payments sent by the government to the wrong person or for the wrong reasons or in the wrong amounts, Obama explained, such as payments to companies that haven't paid their taxes, people who are dead, or scam artists. All told these improper payments add up to $110 billion -- more than the budgets of the Department of Education and the Small Business Administration combined.
“And that’s just unacceptable,” Obama said today and challenged his administration to reduce improper payments by $50 billion between now and 2012.
The bill signed into law today will “dramatically expand and intensify our efforts to end improper payments,” the president said.
“Going forward, every agency in our government will be required to conduct annual assessments, to determine which of their programs are at risk of making improper payments,” Obama explained, “Agencies will be required to audit more of their programs and recapture more taxpayer dollars. And we now have rigorous enforcement mechanisms to hold agencies accountable for how much money they save.”
The bill also gives the heads of agencies the authority to use the recovered money to improve agencies' financial management, a use currently not allowed. If agencies do not comply with the law, they will now face penalties.
The president said this isn’t just about lines on a spreadsheet or numbers on a budget.
-Sunlen Miller, ABCNews.com