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“Improper payments” occur when funds go to the wrong recipient, the recipient receives the incorrect amount of funds (including overpayments and underpayments), documentation is not available to support a payment, or the recipient uses funds in an improper manner. For 2010, federal agencies reported a government-wide improper payment rate of 5.49%, a decrease from the 5.65% improper payment rate that was reported in 2009, but more than the original target of 5.33% established last year. Despite the lower improper payment rate, due to higher outlays associated with the economic downturn, improper payments totaled approximately $125 billion in 2010 - an increase of $15 billion from 2009. For example, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps), reported that outlays grew from $34.6 billion in 2009 to $50.4 billion in 2010.
The Administration is eager to attack the estimated $125 billion improper payments and is working with federal and state partners, Congress, and other stakeholders, to reduce the government-wide amount of errors without negatively impacting citizen access to needed programs. To accomplish that goal, the President has announced several initiatives to prevent, reduce, and recapture improper payments. Learn more about these initiatives.
Taxpayers are able to report suspected incidents of fraud, waste, and abuse that can lead to finding and recovering improper payments, and implementing corrective actions to prevent future improper payments. Partner4Solutions.gov also provides an opportunity for the public to submit ideas about innovative approaches to reduce improper payments, to improve administrative efficiency and service delivery, while also reducing access barriers and protecting beneficiaries of important government programs.
Federal agencies are committed to providing high-quality improper payments data to the public. With your help we can do better. Use the Contact Us link at the top of this page to notify us of potential issues with the website — including data, website and document links, or other information. Also visit our Data Quality page for more information.
In response to the President’s directive to recapture more improper payments, federal agencies recovered a record amount of approximately $687 million in FY 2010. This total includes approximately $611 million recaptured through agency payment recapture audits—a significant increase from previous years, and the highest reported amount in the six previous years of agency reporting. Read more success stories from other agencies.