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Friday, September 17, 2010

OMB redefines federal financial health

Now armed with a newly signed Improper Payments Law, Office of Management and Budget controller Danny Werfel said it's time to re-think improper payments as "a key indicator of the health of federal financial management in the government today."

He told the gathering of federal, state, and local financial managers even though he understands the importance of audits as a tool of financial management in government, he is now also mindful of the shifting public perception of government spending. At the Association of Government Accountants, on the second day of their Internal Control and Fraud Conference Thursday, he suggested the issue of improper payments means more to citizens than the holy grail of the clean audit opinion.

Werfel used his AGA talk to offer some of the most current thinking on the topic of fraud and improper payments to come from OMB since Congress passed, and the President signed, a new Improper Payments bill into law within the last several months.

For one thing, he said his office is mulling over guidance on the issue of single audits, and was asked when it might be forthcoming.

Werfel also talked about the genesis of the new Improper Payments Law, and how it combined the best of the old Improper Payments Act of 2002, and the Recovery Audit Act. He said the new law reflects some lessons learned, the first being the need for partnerships between the federal, states and local auditing communities.

Werfel said it's important that financial officials understand the need to make adjustments when rules for good financial accountability and fraud avoidance become an unfair hurdle to citizens.

Finally, Werfel told his AGA audience that he's very excited about the possibilities surrounding a recently-unveiled fraud detection tool developed by the Recovery, Accountability and Transparency Board, which tracks the economic stimulus program.

Responding to a question, Werfel said that as the Recovery Board fraud tool is further developed and refined, OMB will work with the state and local auditing community about the possibility of sharing it.

-Max Cacas, FederalNewsRadio.com

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