GAO preparing first-of-its-kind estimate of total fraud across all federal programs

In today's Federal Newscast: GAO is preparing a first-of-its-kind estimate of the total amount of fraud across all federal programs. DoD health care providers e...

  • The Government Accountability Office is attempting to do something that has never been done before around improper payments. On the heels of massive fraud across many federal programs during the pandemic, GAO is, for the first time, trying to come up with an estimate of the total amount of fraud across all federal programs. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro said they may have an estimate later this year. One benefit that faces a large rate of fraud is the Labor Department's unemployment insurance (UI) program. Labor's IG said the improper payment rate for UI in 2022 was 21.52%, equaling about $191 billion in improper payments, with a significant portion attributable to fraud. However, not all improper payments are fraudulent.
    (Hearing on unemployment fraud - House Ways and Means)
  • Defense Department health care providers are expanding their use of electronic health records, using the MHS Genesis system. Leidos, the program's support contractor, said another 12,000 care providers are up-and-running with the program. The new locations include 11 military treatment facilities in the northeast. DoD is deploying the system incrementally, which covers about 2,200 locations and reaches over six million patients.
  • The White House has issued a new directive for how agencies should manage their websites. The Office of Management and Budget is directing agencies to only run websites that use .gov or .mil domain names. That requirement includes some exceptions for social media sites and other third-party services. But OMB wants to ensure the public trusts the information and services agencies provide over the internet. Managed by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, .gov is only available to federal, state and local governments.
  • The IRS is building out a task force to explore running its own free e-file system. The Inflation Reduction Act gave the IRS $80 billion dollars to rebuild its workforce and modernize its legacy IT. But it also gave the IRS $15 million to create a task force that will explore the possibility of the IRS running its own direct e-file system for tax returns. The IRS has selected the think tank New America and Ariel Jurow-Kleiman, an associate professor of law at Loyola Law School, to serve on that task force. The task force will advise the IRS on the estimated cost of launching and maintaining the system, as well as on how many taxpayers would actually use the platform to file their tax returns. The IRS said it is on track to deliver its direct e-file report to Congress in May 2023.
  • A bipartisan bill would authorize funding for Federal Executive Boards (FEB). The 28 FEBs across the country collaborate on efforts to administer federal programs, coordinate emergency response efforts, and create training opportunities at agency field offices. Proponents of the legislation said it would give FEBs a stable source of funding, something they don't currently have.
  • Some federal retirees would see changes to their annual cost-of-living adjustments under a newly reintroduced bill. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) has reintroduced the Equal COLA Act. The bill would give federal retirees in the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS), a full COLA. Retirees in FERS currently receive less than the full COLA by up to 1%. But federal retirees in the Civil Service Retirement System do receive the full COLA. Federal unions and advocacy groups have voiced their support for the legislation.
    (Connolly Reintroduces Equal COLA Act - Rep. Gerry Connolly)
  • In fiscal 2022, federal agencies reported 10 violations of the Anti-Deficiency Act (ADA), according to the Government Accountability Office. The ADA prohibits agencies from obligating or expending federal funds in advance or in-excess-of an appropriation, and from accepting voluntary services. Most of the 10 violations stemmed from problems from previous years, including as far back as 2000. The Veterans Affairs Department reported the largest number of violations with six. Five of them were for construction-related contracts. The Army, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Treasury Department also reported ADA violations for assorted projects. GAO said six of the reported violations resulted from government officials or employees obligating or expending funds in violation of statutory spending restrictions.
    (Anti-deficiency Act Reports – Fiscal Year 2022 - Government Accountability Office)
  • As a follow-up to the State of the Union address, the Office of Management and Budget is issuing proposed guidance that would boost the use of American-made goods in federal infrastructure projects. OMB has outlined new draft standards to determine if construction materials, like lumber, glass, drywall and fiber optic cables are actually made in the USA and support American businesses and workers. President Joe Biden said all upcoming federal infrastructure projects will use all-American construction materials.
  • A watchdog said FEMA needs stronger oversight of public-private partnerships it launches in response to emergencies. The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general came to that conclusion after reviewing FEMA’s short-lived Project Airbridge. The initiative aimed to speed up Personal Protective Equipment deliveries during the early days of the pandemic. But, the IG said, it could only confirm Airbridge distributors delivered 35% of PPE to priority locations.
  • With just a few changes, the Senate Armed Services Committee filled out its roster for subcommittee leadership in the 118th Congress. With the Democrats remaining in control of the Senate, leadership was more of a rotation. Elizabeth Warren is the new chairwoman of the personnel subcommittee, while Joe Manchin takes over the cybersecurity subcommittee. Mazie Hirono will lead the subcommittee on readiness and management support. Jack Reed continues his role as committee chairman with Republican Roger Wicker as the ranking member.


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