Federal Agencies Admit To Wasting $2.3 Trillion In Improper Payments Since 2004

If you want to know why this country in financial trouble, all you need to know is that 20 federal agencies have now admitted to making $2.3 trillion in improper payouts just since 2004.

Indeed, just last year alone the federal government wasted $175 billion if improper payments. That’s $15 billion per month, $500 million per day, and $1 million a minute, according to Open The Books chief Adam Andrzejewski.

Federal law defines the term “improper payment” as “a payment made by the government to the wrong person, in the wrong amount, or for the wrong reason.”

A recent Open The Books report reveals just how bad our government is at making proper payments:

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1. Total Mistakes: $175 billion in estimated improper payments reported by the 20 largest federal agencies, averaging $14.6 billion per month – Total (FY2004-FY2019): $2.25 trillion

2. Worst Programs – $121 billion (approximately 69 percent) in improper payments occurred within three program areas – Medicaid, Medicare, and Earned Income Tax Credit.

3. Claw Back – only $21.1 billion of the $175 billion improper payments during 2019 was recaptured — that’s only 14 cents on every dollar misspent. Five-year total: $103.6 billion recaptured/ $747.7 billion improperly spent

4. Dead people: $871.9 million in mistaken payments were made to dead people. Medicaid, social security payments, federal retirement annuity payouts (pensions), and even farm subsidies were sent to dead recipients. Root cause: failure to verify death. Four-year total: $2.8 billion

5. Ancient Americans: Six million Social Security numbers are active for people aged 112+; however, only 40 people in the world are known to be older than 112 years of age.

6. Worst Upward Trend: Medicaid and Medicare improper payments soared from $64 billion (2012) to $88.6 billion (2017), and, in 2019, to $103.6 billion. Five-year total: $456 billion

7. Best Turnaround: In 2018, the Education Department overpaid $6 billion to college students receiving PELL grants and student loans. In 2019, improper payments were reduced to $1.1 billion – an 85-percent reduction.

8. Improper Income Redistribution: $17.4 billion in improper payments by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) within the Earned Income Tax Credit program. 25-percent of all payments were improper. Five-year total: $84.35 billion

9. Purchasing Power: What can $175 billion buy? Last year, the federal government wasted the equivalent of a full year of all federal salaries, perks, and pension benefits for every employee of the federal executive agencies. A stunning example of institutionalized incompetence.

Here are the ten worst offending agencies and departments:

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.

Warner Todd Huston has been writing editorials and news since 2001 but started his writing career penning articles about U.S. history back in the early 1990s. Huston has appeared on Fox News, Fox Business Network, CNN, and several local Chicago News programs to discuss the issues of the day. Additionally, he is a regular guest on radio programs from coast to coast. Huston has also been a Breitbart News contributor since 2009. Warner works out of the Chicago area, a place he calls a "target rich environment" for political news.
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