Improper Payments | OpenTheBooks Oversight Report 2_IP

June 12, 2023 04:22 PM




1. Total Overpayments

In 2022, $247 billion in estimated improper payments were reported by 17 federal agencies, averaging $20.5 billion per month.



2. Worst Programs

Department of Health and Human Services’ Medicaid ($81 billion); HHS’s Medicare — consisting of several parts — ($47 billion); and Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program ($29 billion). 


3. Claw Back

The government identified $51.7 billion of overpayments to recapture, and was successful in recapturing $23.2 billion through audits and other “recovery activities,” making for a 45% recovery rate, or an actual recovery rate of 9% of all improper payments.


4. Dead People Payments

Dead people received $532.5 million in 2022 and $441.7 million in 2021 in mistaken payments. Federal retirement services (pensions), old-age, survivors, and disability insurance, and social security were sent to dead recipients. 

Two year total: $974.3 million.


5. Top 10 Worst Agencies

Agency                                               2021                                       2022

Health and Human Services Dept.     $154.3 billion                          $132.6 billion

Small Business Administration            $671 million                           $37.3 billion

Treasury Department                          $26 billion                        ​       $25.9 billion

Labor Department                               $78.2 billion                            $​19 billion

Education Department                        $3.2 billion                              $15.7 billion

Social Security Administration            $8.3 billion                              $7.4 billion

Veterans Affairs Department               $5.1 billion                              $3.5 billion

Defense Department                           $2.5 billion                             &nbs​p;$2 billion

Agriculture Department                       $1.5 billion                           &nb​sp;  $1.9 billion

Transportation Department                  $697 million                           ​$756 million


6. Worst Loss 

In 2021, the Small Business Administration overpaid $671 million in improper payments. That number ballooned to $37.3 billion in 2022, due mostly to the Paycheck Protection Loan Program and COVID-Economic Injury Disaster Loan program — $35.9 billion combined.


7. Best Recovery

In 2021, the Labor Department overpaid $78.2 billion, almost all the Federal State Unemployment Insurance program. In 2022, the total number of improper payments dropped to $19 billion — a 75% reduction.


8. Added To The List

Seventeen agencies reported having made improper payments in FY 2022 and 16 reported such payments in 2021.

USAID — United States Agency for International Development — had no improper payments in 2021 but $200,000 in 2022.


9. Risk-Susceptible

U.S. Government Accountability Office identified some risk-susceptible programs that had no reported FY 2022 improper payments, including HHS’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.


10. What Can $247 Billion Buy?



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