Federal government agencies have avoided $47 billion in improper payments over the past three years, according to Danny Werfel, Controller of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  Werfel announced these results in a blog on the OMB website this week.

Even though the government will come up a bit short of its goal of $50 billion in improper payments avoidance by the end of FY2012, Werfel said the current results are significant and reflect an aggressive approach by agencies to eliminate wasteful improper payments.  As a result, he said the government-wide error rate has been reduced to 4.3 percent from 5.4 percent in FY2009.

Werfel pointed out that factoring in Department of Defense (DoD) commercial payments adds another $70 billion to avoided improper payments and lowers the government-wide error rate to 3.7 percent.

He also emphasized that federal agencies have recaptured $4.4 billion in overpayments since FY2009, more than twice the $2 billion goal.  Much of this success, he said, is due to the Medicare Fee-for-Service Recovery Audit Contractor program.

Werfel said agencies have been able to significantly reduce the level of improper payments by intensifying and expanding efforts to identify, recovering improper payments and establishing “Do-Not-Pay” lists, and implementing provisions of the “Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act”.  He said agencies have, for the first time, “deployed cutting-edge forensic technologies” to curb improper payments.