House passes bonus-free waste reduction bill

The House Wednesday passed a bill 375-0 aimed at helping federal agencies recover overpayments to vendors. But a provision offering potential cash awards of up to $150,000 for career employees who reduced wasteful spending was stripped from the bill before it passed.

The House-passed version of the Government Waste Corrections Act of 1999 (H.R. 1827) originally included cash awards of up to $150,000 for career employees who made "extraordinary contributions" to reducing wasteful spending by their agency.

Drafted by House Government Reform Committee Chairman Dan Burton, R-Ind., the bill aims to improve the financial management of government agencies through recovery auditing.

The Government Reform Committee acknowledged that the bonuses clause had been removed, saying only that the final version included input from many legislators, but not specifying why the cash award option was dumped.

From the House floor, Burton said that his bill "would focus on getting back these millions and billions of dollars in overpayments," noting that "we need to improve management in most agencies."

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that H.R. 1827 would save the government $100 million over the next five years.

Recovery auditing is a private sector business practice that uses advanced computer software to analyze payment records and detect inadvertent overpayments resulting from billing and payment errors. According to H.R. 1827, agencies will not have to appropriate money to cover the cost of recovery auditing.

The Government Waste Corrections Act allows agencies to conduct recovery audits in-house or through contractors.

The bill now moves to the Senate for approval.

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