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Improper Payments and Recovery Audits: Legislation, Implementation, and Analysis
Garrett Hatch (au); Meredith A. Levine (au)
As Congress searches for ways to generate savings, reduce the deficit, and fund federal programs, it has passed legislation to prevent and recover improper payments. Exceeding $115 billion in FY2011, improper payments are payments made in an incorrect amount, payments that should not have been made at all, or payments made to an ineligible recipient or for an ineligible purpose. The total amount may be even higher than reported because several agencies have yet to determine improper payment amounts for many programs, including some with billions of dollars in annual expenditures. In 2002, Congress passed the Improper Payments Information Act, which established an initial framework for identifying, measuring, preventing, and reporting on improper payments at each agency. It also passed legislation, the Recovery Audit Act, which required agencies that awarded more than $500 million annually in contracts to establish programs to recover overpayments to contractors. After five years, the data indicated that while many individual programs reduced their improper payment rates, the total amount of improper payments and the government-wide improper payment rate both increased. In response, Congress passed new legislation, the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2010 (IPERA). This report examines the key provisions of IPERA and analyzes its effectiveness at reducing improper payments and increasing payment recoveries. IPERA may have had a positive impact on efforts to recoup overpayments -- agencies recaptured more than $1.2 billion in improper payments in FY2011, nearly double that recaptured in FY2010. Tables. This is a print on demand report.
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