Yakym Introduces Bipartisan Legislation To Rein-In Improper Federal Payments; Save Taxpayer Dollars

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Rudy Yakym (IN-02), along with Congressman Jack Bergman (MI-01), Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-19), and Congressman Scott Peters (CA-50) introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen transparency and accuracy in improper payment reporting.

H.R. 8342, the Improper Payments Transparency Act, would correct existing gaps in improper payment reporting requirements by directing the President’s budget request to include key data and context on this waste, fraud, and abuse of federal funds. This commonsense legislation will support federal efforts to tackle the issue of improper payments.

“With our nation nearly $35 trillion in debt and growing, we need to be doing everything possible to stop wasteful spending and put us back on a path to fiscal responsibility,” said Rep. Yakym. “One of the most obvious ways is by reining in improper payments that the federal government should never have made in the first place. Our commonsense, bipartisan legislation increases transparency and reporting requirements when it comes to improper payments so we can start to root out this wasteful practice and better steward taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars.”

“Despite the government making tens of billions of dollars in faulty and fraudulent payments every year, the President’s annual budget request continues to ignore this gross misuse of taxpayer funds,” said Rep. Bergman. “If we don’t acknowledge the extent of a problem, we can’t begin to change it, and I am proud to co-lead this bipartisan bill – the Improper Payments Transparency Act – to require the President to report key data on improper payments in the annual budget request. Ensuring the proper use of taxpayer dollars should not be a partisan issue, and I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to rally in support of this critical legislation.”

“Over the last two decades, the federal government has reportedly made over $2.7 trillion in improper payments that either should not have been made in the first place or were made in the incorrect amount,” said Rep. Panetta. “These mistakes can add up, which is why our bipartisan Payments Transparency Act would require the President’s annual budget request to provide additional detail on these improper payments as we continue our work to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. Transparency is part of good governance, and this bipartisan legislation is a small, but important step to building public trust.”
“According to the Government Accountability Office, the federal government made an estimated $236 billion in improper payments in 2023,” said Rep. Peters. “The Improper Payments Transparency Act will ensure future Presidents’ budget requests include more detail on the scale of improper payments — helping Congress better understand what corrective actions agencies are taking.”

The Improper Payment Transparency Act is supported by BPC Action, the Economic Policy Innovation Center (EPIC), Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA), Heritage Action, Matt Weidinger from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and Open the Books.

Specifically, the Improper Payments Transparency Act would require the President’s annual budget request to include information critical to detecting and preventing federal improper payments, such as:

  • A description of programs required to submit improper payment reports;
  • A detailed explanation of why any improper payments occurred;
  • Trends in improper payment amounts and rates over a three-year period;
  • What corrective actions, including those outlined in corrective action plans, agencies are undertaking regarding improper payments; and
  • The status of those actions, including disclosure of programs and activities with incomplete actions.

Background

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), improper payments are any payments “that should not have been made or were made in the incorrect amount.” Since Fiscal Year (FY) 2003, the federal government has made $2.7 trillion in improper payments.

Each year, the federal government makes hundreds of billions in improper payments. In FY 2023 alone, 14 federal agencies reported a total of $236 billion in improper payments across 71 government programs. 95 percent of were overpayments, which place undue burdens on benefit recipients, the disabled, retirees, and other Americans who struggle to make ends meet.

The true cost to the federal government of improper payments is likely even higher than current data indicates, however, as some programs that agencies have determined are susceptible to significant improper payments do not report estimates. By enhancing transparency and reporting requirements, the Improper Payments Transparency Act will help the federal government better understand the scope of improper payments and take corrective action to steward and protect taxpayers and taxpayer dollars.

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