WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Susan Collins, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, stood with colleagues and the President today as he signed into law the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act. Attending the White House ceremony with Senator Collins, an original co-sponsor of the legislation, were Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Reps. Charlie Wilson (D-OH), Dina Titus (D-NV), Patrick Murphy (D-PA), and Brian Bilbray (R-CA.).
The new law provides important tools to address government waste, including requiring agencies to produce audited, corrective action plans with targets to reduce overpayment errors; mandating all agencies that spend more than $1 million to perform recovery audits on all their programs to actually recoup the overpayments; and penalizing agencies that fail to comply with current accounting and recovery laws. The law incorporates recommendations based on recent investigations by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General, which found that recovery audits were useful in identifying and recovering improper payments, and in identifying important changes that agencies should make to prevent similar overpayments in the future.
"Today, with this important new law, we gave the American people more security in knowing that their hard-earned taxpayer dollars will be spent more wisely and prudently by reducing the risk of improper federal payments," said Senator Collins. "The law also increases the capacity to recover money that the government has misspent, a figure the White House says approached $100 billion last fiscal year. Our new law strengthens reporting requirements for programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income that have been identified as vulnerable to improper payments, and it mandates the increased use of recovery audits. Additionally, any monies recovered during audits of entitlement and tax credit programs would be returned to those programs, helping ensure that program beneficiaries, such as Social Security recipients, receive their designated benefits."