The White House renews its efforts to improve the integrity of federal payments

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The Biden government is doubling its accountability and efficiency obligations in government after a recent surge in illicit payments, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Office of Management and Budget released updated government-wide data on Dec. 30 on improper payments, which are payments that either should not have been made or were made for the wrong amount. This has been a longstanding issue in the federal government that includes various presidential administrations.

The new data “underscores the depth of the problems facing states that have, in many cases, been overwhelmed by the unique and worsening challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic – and a common legacy of neglected oversight under the previous administration,” said it in a blog post by OMB. “Overall, the analysis estimates that between the 2020 budget year and the 2021 budget year, the state-wide rate of inadmissible payments rose from 5.6% to 7.2%.”

The increase was mainly due to the increase in deficits in the unemployment insurance programs of the countries that were heavily used as a result of the pandemic-induced recession, said OMB. The office cited a recent report by the Pandemic Accountability Committee, established by the CARES Act to oversee COVID-19-related issues in March 2020, on the challenges 16 states are facing in handling unemployment benefits at the start of the pandemic faced.

A dashboard on PaymentAccurancy.gov allows users to search for agencies for information on how effectively and efficiently federal agencies and government partners are making payments. A similar site – USASpending.gov – just shows how the money is being spent.

“The data is for federal programs, but many of the federal programs fund government programs. Health insurance, unemployment insurance, [Housing and Urban Development Department] Community grants, [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families], and education funding is some of the biggest of them, “said Linda Miller, former assistant executive director of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee and former government Accountability Office officer who is now a director of Grant Thornton Public Sector. Government executive On Monday.

“So the money will be made available to the federal authorities ([Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Agriculture departments,] etc.) then they transfer it to states for these state programs like Medicaid, [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families]and unemployment insurance, ”she continued. “They do this in different ways, for example through direct transfers or block funding.”

The Biden government is working to help states with their unemployment insurance systems and improve oversight, OMB said.

For example, the American Rescue Plan approved $ 2 billion in grants to prevent identity theft, send “Tiger Teams” to work with state unemployment officials, and upgrade legacy technology systems; Biden’s government created a new data-sharing agreement between states and the Inspector General of the Department of Labor; the Ministry of Labor is working with “law enforcement agencies to counter attacks by organized criminal syndicates”. [unemployment insurance] Achievements; “and President Biden launched an Identity Theft Prevention and Public Benefit initiative in May that will complete recommendations and reforms this year.

As for OMB itself, it has worked with the regulatory community and authorities to make tackling inappropriate payments a “top priority,” the blog said.

OMB has issued guidelines on how agencies can better relate to their IGs; updated guidelines on payment integrity; and published an implementation guide for American Rescue To plan to maximize the accountability and payment integrity that OMB seeks to replicate for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

“We’re not going to solve these problems overnight. But the bottom line is that the government will continue to focus on taking every possible step to deliver the effective, efficient, and accountable government that the American people expect and deserve, ”the blog post reads. “The transparent transfer of this data and the direct examination of the challenges we are facing are part of this obligation.”

GAO said in a June report that OMB has partially addressed or agreed to several of its previous recommendations on improper payments, a year-long problem; however, more could be done.

Overall, “OMB has implemented four of our 35 open priority recommendations since our letter of April 2020,” wrote Comptroller General Gene Dodaro to the OMB management. “Given the critical role OMB plays in overseeing key government performance and management issues, we invite your attention to the remaining 31 open priority recommendations identified in the 2020 letter.” GAO also added 13 new recommendations on inappropriateness Payments as well as government services, government data transparency and availability, acquisition management, federal real estate and information management.

Last month, OMB announced that it was seeking feedback on a draft learning agenda to advance the President’s management agenda due January 31. One of the questions OMB was happy to answer is, “How can minimizing administrative burden also meet the goals of minimizing inappropriate payments and strengthening program integrity?”


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