Watchdog documents ongoing workers’ compensation struggles

mangostock /

Managing workers’ compensation benefits remains a challenge for federal agencies, and it’s driving up program costs, according to a new watchdog report.

The Government Accountability Office conducted an audit of Labor Department and inspectors general reports on implementation of the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act, dating back to 2004. The 1916 law, designed to provide compensation for workers injured on the job, has not been amended in 38 years and management and oversight problems have continued to hamper the program’s implementation and make it vulnerable to waste and abuse, the report said.

“Specifically, Labor cited oversight difficulties such as verifying beneficiaries’ program eligibility, managing payments while balancing timeliness and accuracy, and communicating with employing departments and agencies,” GAO stated. Agencies often lacked policies and procedures to manage the program properly, or did not follow them, GAO added. For instance, better controls “would have enabled staff to verify beneficiaries’ continued eligibility,” the report noted.

One agency had difficulty managing the long-term beneficiary rolls and reining in improper payments because staff assigned to the task spent no more than 10 percent of their time managing cases, a 2007 IG report found.

GAO warned in its report that these kinds of deficiencies could lead to fraud and abuse. The IG at one department reported avoidable costs on FECA were as high as $41 million in 2011.

Many past recommendations for improvement have been implemented, however, GAO said. Inspectors general and lawmakers have further tried to control FECA program costs through reforming administrative procedures and changing the amount employees receive at retirement age.

GAO incorporated responses from the Labor Department in its report, which was dated March 21 but released Friday.

(Image via mangostock /

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.