Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

GAO: Improper Government Payments Increased 18% in 2014, to $125 Billion; EITC's 27% Error Rate Is Highest of Any Program

GAOGovernment Accountability Office, Government-Wide Estimates and Use of Death Data to Help Prevent Payments to Deceased Individuals (GAO-15-482T):

Government-wide, improper payment estimates totaled $124.7 billion in fiscal year 2014, a significant increase of approximately $19 billion from the prior year’s estimate of $105.8 billion. The estimated improper payments for fiscal year 2014 were attributable to 124 programs spread among 22 agencies.

The increase in the 2014 estimate is attributed primarily to increased error rates in three major programs: the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Medicare Fee-for-Service and Medicaid programs, and the Department of the Treasury’s Earned Income Tax Credit program. These three programs accounted for $80.9 billion in improper payment estimates, or approximately 65 percent of the government-wide total for fiscal year 2014. Further, the increases in improper payment estimates for these three programs were approximately $16 billion, or 85 percent of the increase in the government-wide improper payment estimate for fiscal year 2014.

The EITC's 27.2% error rate is far greater than any of the listed government programs.


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The federal government is awful at administering programs and securing the integrity of them. Change it entirely to issuing block grants to the states based on population and let them administer these programs. They will do a MUCH better job preventing fraud.

Posted by: marcv | Mar 23, 2015 9:25:56 AM

It's past time to get rid of the EITC altogether, or at least replace it with a program that is much less prone to fraud. Medicare needs some serious reform as well. However, we are dealing with a Congress who can't even agree on what time it is or if the sun is shining! Pretty shameful!

Posted by: Henry Wilson | Mar 18, 2015 7:49:17 AM