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As primary sponsors of the Payment Integrity Information Act of 2019, the bipartisan lawmakers urge OMB Acting Director to quickly adopt new measures in law that will help cut down on improper payments and safeguard taxpayer dollars

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), senior member on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Senator Mike Braun (R-Ind.), sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Acting Director Russell Vought urging swift implementation of the Payment Integrity Act of 2019which was signed into law in March. The legislation aims to cut down on government waste and improper payments made by the federal government, including overpayments, underpayments, payments made to ineligible recipients or payments that were not properly documented. In their letter to Acting Director Vought, the senators note that, as trillions of taxpayer dollars flow to stakeholders across the country in response to the novel coronavirus, it is critical that the agency take swift action to implement the law in order to cut down on improper payments and safeguard taxpayer dollars. 

“As trillions of taxpayer dollars flow to stakeholders across the country in response to the novel coronavirus, it is critical—now more than ever—for this law to be swiftly implemented,” wrote Senators Carper and Braun. “As the primary sponsors of this legislation, we thank you in advance for working with bill sponsors to implement this law that is designed to deter improper payments.”

Senators Carper and Braun continued, “The Payment Integrity Information Act revises and strengthens several existing improper payments statutes with requirements for federal agencies in order to cut down on improper payments made by the federal government.  Be it over- or under- payments, payments that should not have been made, or payments that weren’t properly documented, it is critical for the government to make accurate awards and to be transparent about errors it makes in order to safeguard taxpayer dollars.”

 

Full text of the letter is below, and a PDF can be accessed HERE.

May 18, 2020

The Honorable Russell Vought

Acting Director

Office of Management and Budget

Washington, D.C. 20503                               

Dear Acting Director Vought,

            We write to you regarding the implementation of the Payment Integrity Information Act of 2019, which became public law on March 2, 2020.[1] As trillions of taxpayer dollars flow to stakeholders across the country in response to the novel coronavirus, it is critical—now more than ever—for this law to be swiftly implemented.  As the primary sponsors of this legislation, we thank you in advance for working with bill sponsors to implement this law that is designed to deter improper payments. 

The Payment Integrity Information Act revises and strengthens several existing improper payments statutes with requirements for federal agencies in order to cut down on improper payments made by the federal government.  Be it over- or under- payments, payments that should not have been made, or payments that weren’t properly documented, it is critical for the government to make accurate awards and to be transparent about errors it makes in order to safeguard taxpayer dollars.

            The new law allows for OMB to establish one or more pilot programs to test potential accountability mechanisms for compliance with requirements regarding improper payments and the elimination of improper payments. The recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act serves as an excellent opportunity to run such a pilot program.[2]  As the largest relief package in history, it will spend over $2 trillion, sending much needed payments to individuals and businesses through new programs, one-time-only payments and significant expansions of existing programs. Making so many payments to such a large number of individuals and entities within such a short period of time is a monumental and critically important task for our federal government, but it also provides a timely laboratory for such pilots. 

            In addition to this requirement, the Payment Integrity Information Act also requires OMB to update its plan for improving the death data maintained by the Social Security Administration, to improve federal agency use of death data, and to establish an interagency working group on payment integrity.  We believe these efforts are critically important as there have been numerous reports[3] of economic impact payments sent out to deceased persons. 

As OMB looks to implement the Payment Integrity Information Act, we thank you in advance for taking these thoughts into consideration. While the challenges of mitigating improper payments are great, we are confident that this new law will enhance the ability of the federal government to identify, prevent, and recover improper payments that will ultimately save taxpayers money and, thereby, serve as an important piece of a bigger puzzle to put our nation on a better path to fiscal sustainability.

 

Sincerely,

 

cc: President Donald J. Trump

 

[1] S. 375, the Payment Integrity Information Act (Public Law 116-117).

[2] H.R.748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (Public Law No. 116-136) was approved unanimously by the Senate on March 25, 2020, then by the House of Representatives on March 27, 2020, and signed into law by President Trump on March 27, 2020.

[3] National Public Radio The IRS Sent Coronavirus Relief Payments to Dead People May 6, 2020 Accessible at: https://www.npr.org/2020/05/06/851019441/the-irs-sent-coronavirus-relief-payments-to-dead-people