Federal agencies have a new tool in their efforts to reduce improper payments.  “The new Do Not Pay tool will help Federal agencies avoid the types of payments and errors that have plagued the government too long,” wrote OMB Controller Danny Werfel. 

This is the latest in a series of actions by the administration to identify and cut improper payments.  In March 2010, OMB issued guidance to federal agencies guidance on procedures to reduce improper payments.  In June 2010, agencies were directed to review databases (Do Not Pay list) and other information to determine the eligibility of the recipient before they release federal funds for payment.  Congress has also acted to address the improper payments problem by passing the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2010 requiring agencies to conduct recovery audits for programs spending over $1 million annually.

The Do Not Pay solution, developed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Treasury department, will provide “agencies streamlined access to relevant databases when evaluating payment or enrollment eligibility.”  This access will enable agencies to eliminate manual checking or multiple databases.  Agencies will use a single port of entry for accessing databases to match and analyze payment files directly against available data sources and checking for payment file irregularities.  A description of the new system and a guide to its use is available on the Do Not Pay website.

OMB Acting Director Jeffrey Zients told agencies to prepare plans for using the Do Not Pay solution.  He directed agencies to submit draft plans by June 30, 2012.  Each plan is to include a process description and a timetable for using the Do not Pay tool.  The memo also urges agencies to submit proposals for revising laws or regulations to improve data access and “solutions for pre-payment eligibility reviews.”  After review and comment by OMB, agencies will submit final plans to OMB by August 31, 2012. 

Werfel said OMB expects that by next spring all agencies will be actively using the Do Not Pay solution along with other tools aimed at finding and recovering improper payments.