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Gerald C.
Democrat VA 11

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  • Federal Improper Payments Coordination Act of 2015

    by Representative Gerald E. Connolly

    Posted on 2015-12-07

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    CONNOLLY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the Federal Improper Payments Coordination Act before the House this afternoon. I am pleased to join my friend from South Carolina (Mr. Mulvaney) in sponsoring the House companion of this bipartisan legislation. He has already mentioned the cosponsors, Cheri Bustos, Buddy Carter, and Lynn Westmoreland among them. I also want to thank our Senate partners for their work on this important initiative.

    I want to assure my friend, Mr. Mulvaney, we are going to be marking up a companion bill to this tomorrow in our committee, and hopefully we will send it over to the Senate with a House number on it. Fair is fair.

    This is the latest in a series of commonsense, good-government laws we have enacted over the last decade as we work to reduce, if not outright eliminate, billions of taxpayer dollars in improper payments made by Federal agencies. The gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Mulvaney) pointed out just how large a number this is: $125 billion a year.

    Now, over a decade, that is $1.25 trillion. That exceeds all of sequestration. We wouldn't have to make any cuts to investments or raise any taxes to deal with sequestration if we just dealt with this. With the GAO reporting nearly $125 billion of improper payments, it is clear that more can and must be done to deal with government waste and fraud.

    Today's legislation would expand the use, as Mr. Mulvaney indicated, of the Do Not Pay Initiative to the legislative and judicial branches and to our State partners. That initiative was the result of the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act of 2012, which was also a product of our committee, and I was pleased to cosponsor it at that time.

    The Do Not Pay Initiative was launched by Treasury and leverages multiple data sources--many of which were formerly siloed--to create a central, comprehensive list that Federal agencies can quickly reference to determine whether an individual or organization is, in fact, eligible to receive a Federal grant, benefit, or contract; and it also allows them to verify such payments after the fact.

    For example, this initiative has prompted agencies to better share the reporting of death information to help reduce Federal payments to those, obviously, we have lost or for those who have had their identities stolen. Today's legislation would require the Departments of Defense and State to report information on deaths that occur overseas more quickly so that the agencies can better detect fraudulent payments or recoup improper payments if necessary.

    Just last week, Mr. Speaker, the Office of Management and Budget delivered its first report to Congress on the Do Not Pay Initiative, which it says resulted in more than $2 billion in stopped payments-- that is to say, savings for the U.S. taxpayer. Obviously, we can, with this bill, increase that number even more.

    Based on that early success, it makes good sense for us to expand the use of this valuable tool to the legislative and judicial branches, as well as our State partners, so they have the ability to quickly verify payments or the eligibility of recipients to receive such payments.

    This commonsense proposal was a welcomed suggestion from the GAO in its latest report on improper payments. I would also add that the Oversight and Government Reform Committee will continue this work, as I indicated, with a markup tomorrow.

    Mr. Speaker, again, I want to thank my colleague, Mr. Mulvaney, for his leadership on this matter, and I urge our colleagues to support this important reform to our government in making it more efficient and accountable to the taxpayer.

    Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentlewoman from Illinois (Mrs. Bustos), my good friend and the cosponsor of this legislation.

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