Sen. Carper Highlights New White House Numbers on Federal Agencies’ Efforts to Curb Waste, Fraud and Abuse

WASHINGTON – Today Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) highlighted newly released numbers that demonstrate the federal government’s efforts to reduce waste, fraud and abuse within the federal government. The efforts mirror provisions in a newly enacted law authored by Sen. Carper, the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (IPERA). IPERA will strengthen federal-wide efforts to cut the billions of dollars of waste and improper payments made by agencies each year. Payments made in error, such as payments made to the wrong person or in the wrong amount, result in billions of lost taxpayer dollars every year. President Obama signed the bill into law in July and it will go into effect next year. 


In numbers released today, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) showed federal agencies made nearly $125 billion in improper payments in 2010, which represents a $15 billion increase in the dollar value of improper payments compared to 2009.   However, the numbers also show a small, but significant reduction in the percentage of improper payments, reduced to 5.49 percent from 5.65 percent in 2009. The Administration has a goal of reducing improper payments by $50 billion by the end of 2012.


Additionally, today’s figures detail the amount of improper payments recovered by federal agencies.  In 2010, $687 million of improper payments were recovered, nearly 3 times the level of last year. Medicare, which employs private companies called Recovery Audit Contractors to identify improper payments, recovered $75 million for 2010.


"Curbing our nation’s deficit has to be one of our top priorities moving forward," said Sen. Carper. "Ensuring that the federal government spends taxpayer money in the most efficient and effective way possible and reducing the amount of taxpayer money spent improperly is a critical part of our efforts to reduce the deficit.  The improper payment amounts released today show we have a lot more work ahead to curb waste and fraud within our federal agencies, but I am pleased that several agencies have begun to make some important progress on this front. Today’s numbers show a positive trend that will continue to improve as the provisions outlined in my Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act are fully implemented.


"While there is no silver bullet to restoring our balanced budget, there are smaller darts that the government can use to chip away at our monumental deficit. Curbing improper payments and recovering overpayments are two that we can aim at the budget deficit. I am encouraged to see the Administration beginning to embrace a culture of thrift and fiscal vigilance as it continues to create innovative tools, like the "Do Not Pay List," and the use of private sector partnerships to keep a closer eye on misuse of government money and hold agencies accountable. We have a long way to go to get a firm grip on waste, fraud and abuse within our government agencies, but I look forward to continuing my work with the Administration to help put our nation on the path to fiscal responsibility." 


The Administration sent a memo to agencies today requiring stronger steps to curb improper payments, and recover overpayments. Citizens can also monitor the government’s progress online. Information about agencies’ improper payments will be available at Additionally, the White House announced a new pilot to expand the "Do Not Pay List," which will host information that will help agencies prevent payments to ineligible recipients, such as individuals who are deceased or contractors banned from doing business with the federal government.   


Sen. Carper’s law, IPERA, provides important tools to address government waste, including:  requiring agencies to produce 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.