More Data Made Available on FY 2014 Federal Improper Payments
Published: June 24, 2015
More details regarding federal improper payments and their growth over the last year have been released to the public on paymentaccuracy.gov. The federal improper payment rate rose for the first time in five years, from 3.5% of program outlays in FY 2013 to 4.5% in FY 2014, amounting to $124.7 billion up nearly $19 billion from FY 2013.
The federal government hasn’t seen a rise in the improper payment rate since FY 2009 when improper payments rose 5.4% over the FY 2008 rate. The improper payment goal for FY 2014 was 3.19% of total program outlays.
Medicare Fee-for-Service payments again topped the list of high risk programs with $45.8B in improper payments for FY 2014, showing a 27% increase over the prior year. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program out of the Department of Treasury ranked second with $17.7B in improper payments for FY 2014, an 18% increase over FY 2013. Medicare, Medicaid and the EITC programs account for over 76% of total federal improper payments annually. Improper payment totals span 124 federal programs across 22 agencies.
Attention has been focused on improper payments for a number of years resulting in the enactment of the 2002, 2010 and 2012 improper payments acts. Until this past fiscal year, agencies have made headway in rooting out waste, fraud and abuse leading to a decline in improper payments and improper payment rates. However, agencies continue to face challenges, such as statutory limitations and compliance issues, in reducing improper payments.
Although FY 2014 data is now presented on the paymentaccuracy.gov website, its presentation and labeling are difficult to read and inaccurate in some cases. For example, the chart showing improper payment amounts and rates by year on the homepage is so small it’s illegible unless you zoom in. And clicking on the chart does not expand its size. Additionally on the Charts page, clicking on the tabular view for a chart that is labeled to have FY 2014 data, brings up a table that is labeled for different years, even though the data matches the data in the chart view for FY 2014. A key tenet of this administration is transparency, which loses its impact and relevance if the data is inaccurate or illegible.