House approves improper payment legislation

The House approved a bill on Wednesday requiring the government to recover nearly $100 billion of taxpayer dollars lost annually due to improper payments.

The chamber approved the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act, sponsored by Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa., by voice vote. The bill, which now heads to a vote in the Senate, would mandate greater oversight of improper payments and penalize agencies that consistently fail to fix accounting mistakes.

"I am proud to pass this bill to ensure we cut down on wasteful government spending," Murphy said.

The legislation would require agencies to perform recovery audits on all their programs and to produce corrective action plans with targets to reduce overpayment errors.

Improper payments are defined as money going to the wrong recipient; an incorrect amount going to a recipient; funds used in an improper manner; or missing documentation explaining why a payment was made.

The bill stems from an April 2009 report by the Government Accountability Office that found an estimated $72 billion in federal improper payments in fiscal 2008 -- roughly 4 percent of the $1.8 trillion of documented outlays for those related programs. The watchdog discovered the figure actually should be higher, but some programs were not tracked adequately.

The White House on Wednesday released a statement praising the House for approving the bill.

The Senate will consider its version of the bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. The bill has support from Republicans, including Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

"The sooner we pass this legislation the more taxpayer money we can save," Carper said on Wednesday.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.