GAO: Improper Payments: Treasury, DOJ, and HHS Need Improvements


“This report examines the extent to which certain agencies’ improper payment risk assessments for selected programs provided a reasonable basis for determining their susceptibility to significant improper payments. GAO analyzed the most recent risk assessments, from 2015 through 2017, for the following five programs: USDA’s Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs; HHS’s Head Start; DOJ’s Law Enforcement; and Treasury’s Interest on the Public Debt and Home Affordable Modification Program. GAO selected these programs, focusing on programs that recently underwent a risk assessment and size of programs’ gross outlays—which totaled about $330 billion in fiscal year 2017 for the five programs GAO selected…”

“What GAO Found

The Improper Payments Information Act of 2002, as amended (IPIA), defines “significant” improper payments as improper payments in the preceding fiscal year that may have exceeded either (1) 1.5 percent of program outlays and $10 million or (2) $100 million (regardless of the improper payment rate). GAO found that the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Treasury (Treasury), Justice (DOJ), and Agriculture (USDA) assessed the five programs GAO selected for review as at low risk for susceptibility to significant improper payments; however, HHS, Treasury, and DOJ lacked sufficient documentation to assess the extent to which their risk assessments provided a reasonable basis for their risk determinations. On the other hand, USDA’s quantitative risk assessment of its program’s susceptibility to significant improper payments provided a reasonable basis for its low-risk determination…”

“What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that Treasury, DOJ, and HHS revise their improper payment risk assessment processes, and that HHS revise its procedures to help ensure that all programs are assessed at least once every 3 years. In their responses, Treasury and HHS agreed with the recommendations, and DOJ disagreed with GAO’s recommendation. GAO continues to believe that the recommendation is valid, as discussed in the report…” Read the full report here.

Source: GAO: Improper Payments: Selected Agencies Need Improvements in Their Assessments to Better Determine and Document Risk Susceptibility, January 10, 2019. GAO.


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