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Campaign to Cut Waste: Fighting Fraud and Slashing Errors

Jeff Zients, Deputy Director for Managenment at the OMB, describes some of the ways that federal agencies are cutting down government waste and helping to fight fraud.

Just days after the White House launch of the Campaign to Cut Waste, an Administration-wide initiative to crack down on unnecessary spending, two federal agencies announced new progress in fighting fraud and cracking down on improper payments.

In a dose of bad news for criminals looking to take advantage of our seniors and defraud Medicare, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced today they’ll be deploying innovative technology in the fight against Medicare Fraud. Starting July 1, CMS will begin using predictive modeling technology, similar to that used by credit card companies, to identify potentially fraudulent Medicare claims on a nationwide basis, and help stop fraudulent claims before they are paid. This initiative builds on the strides made with the Recovery Act to utilize the kinds of cutting edge tools used by the private sector -- as well as new anti-fraud tools and resources provided by the Affordable Care Act.

 As HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius put it at this morning’s announcement: “President Obama is committed to hunting down and eliminating waste, fraud and abuse throughout the federal government. Our work to fight Medicare fraud is an important part of the Obama Administration’s effort to root out wasteful spending and change the way government does business.”

And there was news of more progress out of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) yesterday with the announcement that the nation’s primary nutrition assistance program – SNAP -- reached its highest payment accuracy rate in the history of the program, preventing $356 million in incorrect payments. The accuracy rate is at an all-time high despite increased demand in recent years, underscoring the Administration’s ongoing commitment to track down and eliminate misspent tax dollars in every agency and department across the federal government.

Secretary Vilsack noted at their announcement that USDA is continuing to ramp up efforts to protect taxpayer dollars. They are tackling payment errors by examining local office processes and identifying and implementing efficiencies. The department is also exploring using technology to achieve procedural changes, such as document imaging, telephone interviews or web-based access to case status information.

These announcements build on several innovative pilot programs announced last month that could lead to at least $100 million in annual savings if successfully scaled up and the Administration’s early progress avoiding nearly $4 billion in improper payments and tripling the amount of improper payments to contractors recaptured last year. The President’s 2012 Budget proposes even more aggressive tools that will help drive down this waste, with improper payments and debt collection reforms, which if enacted will result in over $160 billion in savings to the Federal Government over ten years.

 The Administration’s commitment to hunting down and eliminating waste, fraud and abuse is clear, and with the Campaign to Cut Waste, we will continue to make improvements that protect taxpayer dollars.