Agencies handed Do Not Pay deadlines

Acting Budget Director Jeffrey Zients Acting Budget Director Jeffrey Zients J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The Obama administration on Thursday took another step in its campaign to curb improper payments by assigning agencies a schedule for adopting its Do Not Pay List of entities whose claims on federal monies may lack merit.

Acting budget director Jeffrey Zients, in a memorandum to all federal agency and department heads, gave chief financial officers until June 30 to submit drafts on their plan to adopt the online tool, a “single point of entry” through which they would access relevant information in a network of databases before determining eligibility for a benefit, grant or contract award.

“As families across the country pay their taxes this week, we are committed to continuing an aggressive campaign to stop misdirected and erroneous payments that represent an unacceptable waste of these tax dollars,” Zients said. “With advances in technology and data analytics, we are at a real turning point in this fight, and the Do Not Pay tool will allow us to stop more of these payments before they occur.”

Nudging Congress again with its “We can’t wait” slogan, the White House also touted its fiscal 2013 budget proposals on reducing payment errors that it says could save taxpayers $102 billion in 10 years. Zients said agencies already have exceeded the goal President Obama set in 2010 to recapture $2 billion in overpayments to contractors by the end of fiscal 2012. “The administration was able to surpass this goal nearly six months ahead of time, due in large part to hundreds of millions of dollars in recoveries from the Medicare Fee-for-Service Recovery Audit Contractor program,” he said.

The Do Not Pay List assembles data from the Death Master File, Excluded Parties List System, Treasury's Debt Check Database, and the List of Excluded Individuals and Entities, along with more general information from the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control List, ZIP codes, and prison information. Advanced data analytics are then used to identify trends, risks and patterns for further review.

The tool is already in use by the Treasury Department, Government Printing Office, and the National Archives and Records Administration. Soon to follow are the Agriculture, Labor and Veterans Affairs departments, and the Small Business Administration.

Zients’ memo noted the tool complements, but does not replace, the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System contracting officers use.

Once OMB receives agency drafts of plans to adopt the Do Not Pay tool, it will respond by the end of July, and agencies should have final plans ready no later than Aug. 31.

Clarification: A sentence was removed from this story for clarity.

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