Today, Congresswoman Dina Titus of Nevada's Third District stood with President Barack Obama as he signed The Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act into law. Joining them at the White House were Reps. Patrick Murphy (D-PA), Charlie Wilson (D-OH), and Brian Bilbray (R-CA) and Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO).
The new law provides important tools to address government waste, including: requiring agencies to produce audited, corrective action plans with targets to reduce overpayment errors; mandating all agencies that spend more than $1 million to perform recovery audits on all their programs to actually recoup the overpayments; and penalizing agencies that fail to comply with current accounting and recovery laws. The law incorporates recommendations based on recent investigations by the General Accountability Office (GAO) and the Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General, which found that recovery audits were useful in identifying and recovering improper payments, and in identifying important changes that agencies should make to prevent similar overpayments in the future.
"For too long, taxpayer money has been wasted through fraud and abuse," Rep. Dina Titus said. "It's time to make our government work smarter and more efficiently for the American people. With this important legislation, we are taking a page from Nevada families who are doing more with less. Reforming an inefficient system will prevent billions of dollars from being thrown away each year."
"After a six year journey, I couldn't be happier that my bill, The Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act, is now law," said Sen. Carper. "It's a perfect example of common-sense bipartisan, bicameral legislation. This law provides the federal government with new tools to identify, recover, and hopefully prevent improper payments. The expanded use of these new tools to protect taxpayer money couldn't come at a better time as we work to reduce our national debt of over $13 trillion. I applaud the administration's concrete steps to improve transparency and make agencies and agency leadership more accountable. As I like to say, if it is not perfect, make it better. There is a lot more we can do, which is why this new law is so important, especially when it comes to actually going out and recovering the money we lose every year to avoidable errors and preventable fraud.
"A lot of times people say to us: Why don't you do something about waste, fraud, and abuse? With the new improper payments law we are doing something. Enactment of this legislation is not the last step, but it is an important step. I look forward to working with my congressional colleagues and the Administration on its successful implementation."
"The best way to prevent wasteful spending is to stop it from happening in the first place," said Rep. Murphy. "This bipartisan law holds the federal government to the same standard of fiscal responsibility as Pennsylvania families hold themselves."
"As part of our efforts to bring down an unsustainable budget deficit, we must continue reducing and recovering erroneous payments made by federal agencies, which is what our bill, now law, is all about," said Sen. Lieberman. "The signing of this law will also increase transparency and curb future improper payments from large entitlements such as Medicare and Medicaid. Improper payments have climbed to almost $100 billion a year. America's future depends on a more disciplined sense of fiscal responsibility."
"Today, with this important new law, we gave the American people more security in knowing that their hard-earned taxpayer dollars will be spent more wisely and prudently by reducing the risk of improper federal payments," said Sen. Susan Collins. "The law also increases the capacity to recover money that the government has misspent, a figure the White House says approached nearly $100 billion last fiscal year. Our new law strengthens reporting requirements for programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income that have been identified as vulnerable to improper payments, and it mandates the increased use of recovery audits. Additionally, any monies recovered during audits of entitlement and tax credit programs would be returned to those programs, helping ensure that program beneficiaries, such as Social Security recipients, receive their designated benefits."
"I'm encouraged that this new law will provide for the identification and recovery of billions of dollars lost to improper payments and put the money back in the taxpayers' pockets," said Sen. McCaskill. "As we try to repair the damage that has been done to our economy, now more than ever, we must hold the federal government accountable for every dime it spends."