White House touting reduction in improper payments


There’s some apparent good news coming from the White House this afternoon on the improper payment front, according to a news advisory.

At 2:30 p.m., Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew and three other top administration figures are holding a conference call “to discuss the administration’s progress cutting wasteful improper payments by nearly $18 billion’’ the advisory says. FedLine had asked about this last week and was told the data was being finalized. Presumably these are figures for fiscal 2011 versus fiscal 2010.

Not clear is whether the nearly $18 billion figure is a cut in absolute terms or represents something more nebulous. In fiscal 2010, you may recall, improper payments jumped to about $125 billion from $110 billion in fiscal 2009 because of higher spending levels overall, according to OMB. But because the overall improper payment rate dipped from 5.65 percent to 5.49 percent, the administration could say its efforts saved $3.8 billion that would have otherwise mistakenly gone out the door.

Also participating in this afternoon’s call are Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Agriculture Department Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. Why them? The reductions are fueled by decreases in payment errors in Medicare, Medicaid, college Pell Grants and food stamps, according to the advisory.

We’ll keep you posted.


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