Tags: Government | Errors | Waste | Billion

Fiscal Times: Government Errors Waste $100 Billion

By    |   Wednesday, 15 January 2014 07:36 PM

The federal government wastes about $100 billion annually on program payments made in error or that are improper, and recovers only a fraction from the mistakes, the Fiscal Times reported.

The Times assembled data on the staggering losses from the Office of Management and Budget, the executive branch’s fiscal watchdog. “Between 2002 and 2012, federal agencies spent more than half a trillion dollars ($688 billion) on payments that should never have been made,” the Times said. “This adds up to huge losses for the U.S. Treasury.”

The OMB figures showed that in 2012 alone, 13 programs of the federal government made a combined $101.3 billion in improper payments – nearly $16 billion more than the highly charged budget sequester ended up cutting from government spending last year.

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What are “improper payments?” The Times said the term covers fraud and mistakes made by both agencies and the people or organizations that make government claims.

The OMB estimated the government recovered only $2 billion in improper payments in 2011 and 2012.

The biggest waste last year came in the Department of Health and Human Services, which paid out $55.9 billion improperly, the Times reported.

Under the HHS umbrella, Medicare’s Fee for Service program made an estimated $33.2 billion in erroneous or fraudulent payments. Improper payments for Medicare Part C and D insurance programs totaled $8.3 billion. The related Medicaid program made improper payments of $13.5 billion.

The Times said the Internal Revenue Service had the highest error rate, a figure of 22.7 percent for the Earned Income Tax Credit program, amounting to $12.6 billion in improper payments in 2012.

Other agency waste figures included $6.2 billion in improper payments by the Department of Labor’s Unemployment Insurance program in 2013, and $2.5 billion in improper payments for the Department of Agriculture’s food stamps outlays.

The Washington Post reported that at a congressional hearing last week, groups from opposite ends of the political spectrum that are often in sharp disagreement, such as the National Taxpayers Union and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, agreed on some simple areas for government waste cuts, such as ending agribusiness subsidies, killing unneeded defense programs and reforming entitlements.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., recently issued his annual “Waste Book,” which identified $30 billion in federal spending for dubious programs such as a study of romance novels and unused blimps.

In another example, NBC News reported that penis pumps for erectile dysfunction cost the Medicare program $172 million over a six-year period, about double what they would have cost at the private retail level.

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The federal government wastes about $100 billion annually on program payments made in error or that are improper, and recovers only a fraction from the mistakes, The Fiscal Times reported.
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Wednesday, 15 January 2014 07:36 PM
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