WASHINGTON — Yesterday, the Senate unanimously approved legislation co-authored by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), ranking member and chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, that would strengthen coordination among federal agencies to identify and prevent improper payments.
Improper payments are payments made by agencies in error or due to fraud. According to the Office of Management and Budget, federal agencies made an estimated $125 billion in improper payments for fiscal year 2014. The Improper Payments Coordination Act of 2015 (S.614) would improve existing programs, requirements and procedures across federal agencies established to identify and prevent improper payments. A companion bill (H.R. 2320) introduced by Reps. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) and Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) was approved by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week.
“Over the past several years, federal agencies have taken concrete steps and made significant strides to increase accountability and transparency in spending,” said Sen. Carper. “Despite agencies’ efforts, improper payments continue to cost agencies billions of taxpayer dollars, and ultimately undermine the effectiveness of the services that Americans rely upon. This legislation builds on past bipartisan efforts to implement stronger program integrity measures across the federal government and provide agency officials with the tools they need to identify and prevent improper payments. I thank my colleagues in the Senate for supporting this bipartisan bill.”
“Despite increased attention to the problem, the federal government’s efforts to stop improper payments have not been successful, as evidenced by the $19 billion increase in improper payments last year,” said. Sen. Johnson. “Taxpayers expect the federal government to ensure that it is paying the right people, in the right amount, for the right reason. I am pleased that this legislation has passed the Senate. Incremental improvements such as this are necessary if we are to reduce the $125 billion that was wasted last year.”
The Improper Payments Coordination Act of 2015 builds upon two recently enacted improper payment laws championed by Senator Carper, which were also designed to strengthen the federal requirements and procedures to identify and prevent improper payments. In 2010, Senator Carper saw enactment of the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (IPERA), which established new, federal-wide policies and procedures to save taxpayers money by reducing improper payments. In 2013, the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act was signed into law, which further strengthened the rules requiring federal agencies to curb improper payments and mandated the establishment of a government-wide "do not pay” program.