OMB Attacks Improper Payments Again

We talked a lot last year about OMB efforts to improve government efficiency, culminating in the Improper Payment Elimination and Recovery Act in July. Well, the Administration is at it again, making new measures to cut down on improper payments--payments made to the wrong person, for the wrong reason, or for the wrong amount.  Improper payments totaled $125 billion in 2010, and the Administration goal is to cut them in half by 2012. OMB has developed four new pilot projects to help both the Federal government and state governments cut down on these errors and reach the stated goal, mostly through better sharing of data. They are the following:

  1. Through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), States will test how sharing a Medicaid provider enrollment system among a group of states may help Federal and State governments strengthen their abilities to detect and prevent provider fraud, while increasing administrative efficiencies.
  2. The Department of Labor will lead a project to test new ways to reduce overpayments in the unemployment insurance program by helping States access new data sources to more quickly identify beneficiaries who are most likely to be newly employed.
  3. Through the Food and Nutrition Service at the Department of Agriculture, States will test sharing benefits information, which could reduce duplicate payments, make it easier and quicker for a participant to find out whether they are eligible, and allow people in need to continue to receive benefits in the event of a disaster.
  4. The Department of the Treasury will test how they can apply their existing debt collection systems to help States collect outstanding debt that includes Federal dollars.

The more that can be done to cut these improper payments, the better. Even though it won't come close to solving our fiscal problems, there is no reason to not continue to reduce these errors.