The White House this evening released the expected executive order on tracking and combating improper payments on government programs. And it does pretty much what we reported Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag said it would, namely it orders agencies to:
- Report to a governmentwide Web site established to disclose and track a program’s total improper payments. The Web site will include error rates by agency and program, and an e-mail address the public can use to report suspected waste, fraud and abuse.
- Report on errors more frequently. For example, rather than annual reporting of how many improper payments were made and by how much they are reduced, agencies might choose to report twice a year or quarterly.
- Designate a Senate-confirmed official to be accountable for meeting improper payment reduction targets. If the agency misses targets two years in a row, the agency’s head, chief financial officer and inspector general must explain to OMB why the agency missed its goals and how it will meet them in the future.
- Employ new management techniques, such as forensic auditing, to detect and prevent improper payments.
- Share data with other agencies about entities or individuals that received benefits they were not eligible for. This will prevent that entity or person from getting benefits improperly from other programs.
- Create plans to reduce program errors.
The order also directs the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council, in conjunction with the Justice Department, to recommend penalties contracting officers can employ against contractors that fail to spot and return improper payments to the government in a timely manner. The order leaves open what those penalties will be, but offers up suspension, debarment and monetary fines as options for consideration.