The Next Phase in the Improper Payments Battle: Prevention

Of the roughly $4 trillion spent by the government in fiscal 2017, an estimated $141 billion was spent improperly, meaning it was paid out in the wrong amount or to the wrong recipient or it was not properly justified. Some of that was the result of fraud, some simply paperwork errors.

A positive step toward addressing this problem was taken with the release in March 2018 of the president’s management agenda, which includes “getting payments right” as one of the Trump administration’s cross-agency priority goals. CAP Goal No. 9 takes two approaches to the problem that are sorely needed.

First, it aims to shift agencies’ focus toward prevention so there are fewer improper payments that need to be recovered. Recovering an improper payment is laborious and often inefficient and agencies typically recover only 47 cents of every overpaid dollar, so shifting more toward a prevention posture should yield better overall results.

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