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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

$100 Million a Year to Dead Retirees?

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You might think that Brandon Doherty, a GOP candidate for Congress in Rhode Island, was engaging in a bit of hyperbole when he claimed that the federal government had spent more than $600 million in the past five years in improper annuity payments to federal retirees who are not among the living.

But PolitiFact Rhode Island reports that Doherty is right. His claim is based on a study of wasteful spending  issued by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., which in turn relies on an Office of Personnel Management inspector general's report on payments to deceased annuitants. And that report states it plainly: "the amount of post-death improper payments is consistently $100-$150 million annually."

Some of that money goes to fraudsters who are gaming the federal retirement system. But part of it also simply gets deposited electronically into bank accounts that are no longer active.

What Doherty didn't note is that OPM has been working since 2005 to try to address the issue. To date, agency officials reported in February, they have recovered $500 million in improper payments to dead retirees.

(Image via easyshutter  /Shutterstock.com)

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

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