Key Issues > Improper Payments
auditing icon, source: PhotoDisc

Improper Payments

Reducing improper payments—such as payments to ineligible recipients or duplicate payments—is critical to safeguarding federal funds.

  1. Share with Facebook 
  2. Share with Twitter 
  3. Share with LinkedIn 
  4. Share with mail 

Improper payments—payments that should not have been made or were made in the incorrect amount—have consistently been a government-wide issue despite efforts to identify their root causes and reduce them. In fact, the government still doesn’t fully understand the size of federal improper payments, partly because it doesn’t have complete, reliable, or accurate estimates.

In FY 2019, agencies across the government made an estimated $175 billion in improper payments—up from about $151 billion for FY 2018. Medicare, Medicaid, and the Earned Income Tax Credit accounted for about 69% of the $175 billion total.

For instance:

Federal Improper Payment Estimates, FY 2019

Federal spending for Medicare programs and Medicaid is expected to significantly increase in coming years, so it is especially critical to take appropriate measures to reduce improper payments. Agencies can take certain actions to help reduce their improper payments and safeguard taxpayer funds.

These include:

  • Identifying susceptible programs
  • Developing reliable methodologies for estimating improper payments
  • Implementing effective corrective actions based on root cause analysis
  • Reporting as required by statute
Looking for our recommendations? Click on any report to find each associated recommendation and its current implementation status.

More Reports

  • portrait of Beryl Davis
    • Beryl Davis
    • Director, Financial Management and Assurance
    • 202-512-2623