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Latest News


Federal Agencies Reported Over $136 Billion in Improper Payments in 2015


Total improper payments likely higher


BY: at the Washington Free Beacon

Dustin Siggins is an Associate Editor for The Stream and a public relations and media consultant.


The Government Accountability Officereported that $136.7 billion dollars were spent by federal agencies on “improper payments” during fiscal 2015, but the actual total was likely higher.

Agencies are required to report their improper payments if they spend more than $750 million in taxpayer money or have an error rate of 1.5 percent or higher. Improper payments occur when funds go to the wrong recipient, when a recipient receives too little or too much money, when payment documentation is not available, or when “the recipient uses federal funds in an improper manner,” according to the Obama administration’s Payment Accuracy website.

The federal government has assessed improper payments since 2013. While the Obama administration has praised itself for lowering the rate of improper payments since 2009, the actual rate is unknown.

U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro said in testimony to Congress earlier this year that “the estimated improper payments for fiscal year 2015 were attributable to 121 programs spread among 22 agencies.”  The improper payments for fiscal 2015 were $12 billion higher than the previous year, according to the report.

Using GAO’s estimate of $136.7 billion in improper payments at a 4.8 percent error rate, approximately $2.85 trillion in federal spending was reported. But the federal budget in fiscal 2015was $3.69 trillion—nearly one-third more than the $2.85 trillion reported for analysis.

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