Battle to Stop Improper Payments off to a Good Start

May 20, 2012

There's reason for optimism in the ongoing battle against improper payments. A combination of measures in recent years has begun to cut into the rate of reported improper payments.

Improper payments occur when an agency pays an undeserving recipient or pays the wrong amount — whether due to a simple clerical error, a payment system weakness or flat-out fraud. They could be Medicare fraud, a Social Security payment to a deceased recipient, or a payment to someone wrongly claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Improper payments waste resources, contribute to the deficit and undermine confidence in government's ability to manage its finances.

In late 2009, the president issued an executive order setting a framework for reducing improper payments. In 2010, the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act made agencies more accountable for eliminating improper payments.

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