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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

OMB to Alter Guidance for Reducing Improper Payments

Inspectors general are the “best friends” of program managers and the White House budget office when it comes to catching fraud and reducing agency improper payments, the deputy U.S. controller said on Wednesday.
Mark Reger, now in his third month as the No. 2 at the Office of Federal Financial Management, said his team is reworking  Circular A-123 guidance on controlling for financial integrity “to make it less prescriptive and to rely on the people on the ground,” particularly inspectors general.
Reger, a former Maryland State Treasury official, noted that the rate of bad payments has dropped steadily over the past four years, thanks in part to Congress’s enactment of the 2012 Credit Card Fraud Prevention Act and the 2012 Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act. “The most important tool is the education of agency enforcers in the field,” he said, praising the watchdogs for gathering better data, working together and sharing information. “I don’t know a single inspector general who isn’t thrilled to find additional money.”

The increasing use of data analytics has allowed progress in such areas as federal employee misuse of credit orthat it’s not okay to steal from federal government, it’s not sexy,” Reger said. purchasing cards, the deputy controller said. “The data is now generated back to the agencies every day,” he said. “Employees found to have committed fraud have had their cards cancelled, or been fired, or disciplined in some fashion.”
Coming changes to the financial controls circular will include requiring fewer reports and more-detailed categories of fraud, or “bucketing,” to distinguish, for example, between an unmerited payment and a claim lacking proper documentation, he said.
Reger urged IGs, program managers and vendors to report fraud to the Government Accountability Office’s fraud line at fraudnet@gao.net, and to peruse their own Medicare bills in search of bad charges.  “Please reinforce that it’s not okay to steal from federal government, it’s not sexy,” Reger said.
- Charles S. Clark, GovExec.com

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