Sens. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, Gary Peters, D-Michigan, chairman and ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, respectively, and Mike Braun, R-Indiana, applauded on Feb. 5 the passage of the Payment Integrity Information Act of 2019 in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bipartisan legislation aims to 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, which now heads to the president’s desk, passed the Senate unanimously in July 2019.

“At a time when our country is facing record debt and deficits, 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 my bipartisan bill to take the common sense steps necessary to reduce improper payments has now unanimously passed the U.S. House of Representatives. 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 on this important bipartisan bill that is finally on its way to the president’s desk. I’m glad we were able to get this important bill across the finish line here in Congress, and I would urge the president to act swiftly to sign this legislation into law.”

In Fiscal 2018 alone, the Government Accountability Office estimated that improper payments throughout the federal government totaled more than $151 billion. Since 2003, when agencies were first directed to begin reporting improper payments, cumulative improper payment estimates across government have totaled more than $1.4 trillion. For Fiscal 2018, which is the most recent data available, federal entities estimated about $151 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 would:

— 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; and

— 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.

Read the legislation at bit.ly/3behN0i.