WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, highlighted the release of the biennial High Risk Series by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The report to the 112th Congress identifies and updates programs with increased vulnerability to fraud, waste and abuse.
"Unfortunately, this report shows that many of the management challenges that we've been struggling with for a number of years continue to be problem areas. Our inability to find solutions to these problems is likely costing taxpayers billions in scarce resources and preventing agencies from more effectively serving the American public and producing the outcomes we need and expect from them.
"While I'm pleased that progress has been made in some areas and that two past problem areas – including Census operations – have been removed from the list, it's disappointing to see so many serious management deficiencies continue year in and year out under both Republican and Democratic administrations. I'm particularly concerned about the Department of Defense programs, many of which have been considered high risk since the 1990s.While the Department of Defense continues to take steps to improve, these long-standing challenges will require dedication and focus to correct.
"Because of the importance of addressing these challenges, I plan to hold a series of hearings on several of the high-risk areas throughout the year, including: preventing abuse of the military's Tuition Assistance Program, examining new tools for curbing waste and fraud in Medicare and Medicaid and assessing tools to prevent weapon systems cost overruns. I also plan to hold a follow-up hearing on the Census to examine what we are doing right and what we can improve, in preparation for 2020.
"In addition to holding hearings, I plan to introduce legislation to help agencies tackle some of the challenges, such as the management of federal property, issues related to information technology, and the financial difficulties facing the Postal Service."
The GAO report noted that legislative action, including Sen. Carper's Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (IPERA) of 2010 and an associated Presidential Executive Order (Reducing Improper Payments and Eliminating Waste in Federal Programs), have been central to the progress achieved in these high risk areas. Sen. Carper's IPERA law was specifically noted as being key to helping Medicare reduce improper payments, which were nearly $48 billion in 2010.
Upcoming hearings include:
March 2, 2011"Preventing Abuse of the Military's Tuition Assistance Program"
March 9, 2011 "New Tools for Curbing Waste and Fraud in Medicare and Medicaid"
March 29, 2011 "Tools to Prevent Weapon Systems Cost Overruns"
April 6, 2011 "Census: Learning Lessons from 2010, Planning for 2020"