Committee Approves Legislation to Curb Improper Payments to Deceased Individuals

Committee Approves Legislation to Curb Improper Payments to Deceased Individuals

WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Ranking Member Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), highlighted the Committee’s unanimous vote to report the Improper Payments Agency Cooperation Enhancement Act (IPACE) to the full Senate. The legislation, cosponsored by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO), John Tester (D-Mont.), Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), would provide agencies and inspectors general with the tools needed to improve coordination on anti-waste and fraud efforts, and to curb millions of dollars in improper payments to deceased individuals.

This legislation will, for the first time, allow all federal agencies access to the complete Death Master File database maintained by the Social Security Administration. IPACE will also require all agencies to use this data in order to curb improper payments to dead people. More information on the Improper Payments Agency Cooperation Enhancement Act can be found here.

“This legislation ensures that the federal government will keep track of people who have died, shares that information with key federal agencies, and ultimately prevents payments to people who are obviously no longer eligible for federal benefits and other federal payments.  By taking some long overdue and common sense steps like providing federal agencies with access to the most complete and accurate list of people who have died, we can hopefully put an end to this unacceptable practice once and for all. I thank my colleagues on the Committee for supporting this measure, and I look forward to working with Dr. Coburn and the rest of my Senate colleagues to ensure that this legislation receives a swift vote in the full Senate.”

“Preventing government payments to the deceased is a no-brainer. I am pleased that the committee moved quickly and unanimously on this bipartisan bill,” Dr. Coburn said.

Earlier this week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report highlighting Department of Agriculture’s need to cut down on improper payments to deceased individuals. The report, titled USDA Needs to Do More to Prevent Improper Payments to Deceased Individuals, found that the Department of Agriculture (USDA) had made millions of dollars of payments to deceased individuals. The GAO also pointed out that the key step to avoid future improper payments to dead people is to allow the Department of Agriculture to have access to the most complete and accurate database of deceased individuals. To correct this, GAO recommended that USDA make many of the same changes that IPACE would require of all federal agencies.