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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Agencies cut improper payments by $18 billion

Agencies saved nearly $18 billion in fiscal 2011 by reducing improper payments, the White House announced Tuesday. The administration also unveiled new steps to prevent the government from paying money to the wrong people.

Agencies saved $17.6 billion last year, by reducing payment errors in Medicare, Medicaid, Pell Grants and a food assistance program.

President Barack Obama initiated the crackdown on improper payments two years ago, when he gave agencies the goal of reducing payment errors by $50 billion before 2013. The effort has since become part of the administration's Campaign to Cut Waste, which seeks to apply lessons learned by the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board to all federal spending.

As part of the crackdown, agencies reduced the 2011 governmentwide payment error rate to 4.7 percent, the administration said. In 2010, it was 5.3 percent.

The Medicare and Medicaid programs shouldered the bulk of savings, avoiding $16 billion in payment errors, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters.

USDA also prevented $800 million in improper payments under its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly the food stamps program, according to the administration.

In announcing the reduction of payment errors, the White House also revealed new steps to improve agency suspension and debarment programs.

-Ruben Gomez, FederalNewsRadio.com

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