'Do Not Pay' Portal Targets Federal Spending Waste - InformationWeek

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'Do Not Pay' Portal Targets Federal Spending Waste

New Web portal aims to cut down on fraud and prevent federal agencies from making improper payments to ineligible recipients.

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The Obama administration Thursday released a new online tool to help agencies prevent improper payments, whether through benefits or contract spending, to individuals or organizations that have defrauded the government or are otherwise ineligible to receive government money.

The new Do Not Pay site, launched by the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of the Treasury, is a Web portal that started from a June 2010 Presidential memo ordering a single list through which federal agencies could determine whether or not particular contractors or individuals were eligible to receive federal funds. The single portal replaces a series of anti-fraud portals that had been in place.

Deployment of tools to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse has been a priority for the Obama administration over the last few years. It has resulted in online transparency tools like Recovery.gov, PaymentAccuracy.gov, and the IT Dashboard, as well as behind-the-scenes anti-fraud tools deployed by the Recovery Board to track down improper economic stimulus spending.

[ Read about the Obama administration's initiative to streamline and consolidate IT spending. White House's New Attack On IT Spending Waste. ]

The effort is an urgent one. In fiscal 2010, federal agencies estimated that they had spent about $125 billion in improper payments to individuals and organizations, including improperly made payments, payments to the wrong account or recipient, and payments to individuals or organizations banned from receiving money from the government. Improper Medicaid and Medicare payments alone reach into the billions annually, and between 2007 and 2010 federal auditors reported that the government doled out $180 million to deceased recipients, and $230 million to ineligible felons.

Agency managers and inspectors general will be able to use the new portal before awarding contracts, before payment, and after payment.

Before making a contract award or issuing a payment, the user submits information about the organization or proposed beneficiary. The portal then pulls data from a number of different data sources, such as Social Security death records and the Excluded Parties List System, to determine the payee's eligibility to receive funds. In the event that the system misses something, a team then analyzes data using advanced data matching and analytics tools. They can, if necessary, stop payments or prevent future payments from being issued.

A memo issued by OMB director Jeff Zients on Thursday will accelerate the Do Not Pay portal's deployment. The memo requires all federal agencies to submit by June 30 a timetable and a plan for moving to and using the new system.

Agencies already using the system include the Bureau of the Public Debt, the Government Printing Office, and the National Archives and Records Administration. Numerous other agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and the Small Business Administration, are on deck and will soon be using the Do Not Pay site as well.

Attend InformationWeek's IT Government Leadership Forum, a day-long venue where senior IT leaders in government come together to discuss how they're using technology to drive change in federal departments and agencies. It happens in Washington, D.C., May 3.

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