Obama Signs Improper Payments Act
President Obama has signed the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2010, requiring federal agencies to identify programs most at risk of improper payments, take steps to address those risks, and use a variety to tools to recapture payments that were made in error.
Specifically, the head of each federal agency must review agency programs and activities every three fiscal years and identify those that are susceptible to “significant” improper payments. Significant improper payments are those that total either $100 million, or 2.5 percent of total program outlays for programs expending $10 million or more per year. Agencies must explain why the programs are at risk, what steps it plans to take to reduce those risks, and the resources it has or needs in terms of personnel, technology systems, and internal controls. The plans will also describe how agency managers, programs, and where appropriate, state and local governments, are held accountable for preventing, detecting and recovering improper payments.
The new legislation (PL 111-204) also focuses on the use of recovery audits to return improper payments to federal agencies. Also, under the measure, agencies may keep the funds that are recaptured through recovery audits rather than returning them to the Treasury. The money may be reinvested back into the original program, used for agency OIG activities, or support financial management improvement activities.