Signed into law

Sens. Tom Carper; Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin; Gary Peters, D-Michigan; and Mike Braum, R-Indiana, applauded March 3 the signing of the Payment Integrity Information Act of 2019 into law.

The bipartisan legislation will cut down on government waste and improper payments made by the federal government — including overpayments, underpayments, payments made to ineligible recipients or payments that were not properly documented. The bill passed the Senate in July 2019 and the House in February 2020.

“At a time when our country is facing record debt and a nearly $1 trillion federal deficit, it is simply unacceptable that federal agencies continue to make billions of dollars in improper payments,” said Carper. “As elected officials, one of our most important responsibilities is to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars, and we know that we can and must be doing better on that front. That’s why, for years, I have worked to make it a priority across the federal government to root out and eliminate billions of dollars in waste, fraud and abuse. Today, I’m proud that our bipartisan bill to take the common sense steps necessary to reduce improper payments has been signed into law. I want to thank Sens. Johnson, Peters, Braun, Chairwoman Maloney of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and the staffs of each of these members, for working with me and my staff to make this important bipartisan bill the law of the land.”

In fiscal 2019, the Government Accountability Office estimated that improper payments throughout the federal government totaled more than $175 billion. Since 2003, when agencies were first directed to begin reporting improper payments, cumulative improper payment estimates across government have totaled more than $1.7 trillion. Just yesterday, the GAO reported that federal entities estimated about $175 billion in improper payments, an unacceptably high number which has increased over the last several fiscal years.

Specifically, the Payment Integrity Information Act of 2019 will:

— Require agencies to undertake additional efforts and develop plans to prevent improper payments before they happen.

— Improve the way agencies identify programs with the highest risk of improper payments.

— Require the Office of Management and Budget and the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency to issue guidance to improve annual reporting on agencies’ compliance with improper payments statutes.

— Create a working group that will enable federal agencies to collaborate with each other and non-federal partners, such as state governments, to develop strategies for addressing key drivers of improper payments, such as fraud and eligibility determinations in state-managed federal benefits programs.

The legislation is available at bit.ly/3behN0i.