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Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA, 8th District) and Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA, 50th District) introduced H.R. 3393, the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (IPERA) of 2009, to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse resulting from lack of oversight on the part of federal agencies. This bipartisan bill would reduce the estimated $72 billion in improper payments- those that occur when a federal agency pays too much or pays twice for a product or service. Improper payments may occur as a result of fraud, or from poor financial management systems that don’t detect mistakes before federal dollars are misspent.
According to the Government Accounting Office (GAO), the nearly $72 billion in improper payments federal agencies are estimated to have made in FY 2008 is more than the total budget for the Department of Homeland Security, and more than seven times as much as the federal government spent on the Children’s Health Insurance Program this year.
“At time when our families are watching our expenses, Americans expect their government to do the same,” said Rep. Patrick Murphy. “There is simply no excuse to lose billions of taxpayer dollars to improper payments every year- the savings from this bipartisan bill should be redirected to middle class tax cuts.”
“There is no excuse to waste a single penny of taxpayer’s money,” said Congressman Bilbray. “This bill brings accountability, transparency and responsibility, for the first time, to the agencies responsible for the waste, fraud and abuse that unfortunately have given our federal government a black-eye for our accounting practices. It’s time to stop just talking about it. Now is the time to be responsible stewards of taxpayer’s money, and we can only do that by being accountable and transparent.”
The IPERA Act would help identify, reduce and eliminate improper payments, as well as recover lost funds that federal agencies have improperly disbursed. Specifically, this legislation would:
* Improve Transparency
This bill would lower the reporting threshold so Congress and the general public have a better picture of the problem we face. Currently, OMB has set the reporting threshold for improper payments very low, meaning millions of dollars in erroneous payments go unreported – and potentially unaddressed – each year;
* Prevent Improper Payments
The bill would help prevent improper payments from happening in the first place by requiring federal agencies report on their corrective action plans and the improper payment reduction targets they are using to address their payment error problems;
* Recover Overpayments
Under current law, agencies are only required to seek to recover overpayments they make if they hand out more than $500 million in payments to contractors each year. IPERA would expand the use of recovery auditing by requiring that all agencies with outlays of more than $1 million perform recovery audits on their programs and activities; and,
* Hold Agencies Accountable
IPERA would require that agencies hold top managers accountable for their progress, or lack of progress, in addressing their improper payment problems.