WASHINGTON, Sept. 4, 2013 – The USDA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG)  reported today that it found a 67 percent increase in “high-dollar” overpayments in FY 2012 compared to the previous fiscal year.

Specifically, due to improved reporting oversight and processes, USDA reported 239 overpayments, totaling about $20.3 million in FY 2012.

However, OIG found USDA’s FY 2012 quarterly reports on high-dollar overpayments and related actions did not always provide accurate and timely information. The reports included errors and were published up to 102 days after the due date.

OIG said this occurred because, although agency chief financial officers certified that information was accurate and met applicable criteria, component agencies’ submissions required substantive review to ensure USDA followed the high-dollar reporting guidance appropriately and that only payments that were supposed to be reported were included in the department’s report.

“Without accurate and timely reporting, neither the department nor the [Office of Management and Budget] can measure the effectiveness of USDA component agencies’ actions or strategies to eliminate the errors causing high-dollar overpayments,” OIG said.

OIG said it recommended USDA provide additional oversight over component agencies’ processes to ensure component agencies’ high-dollar overpayment reports comply with departmental reporting guidance. The agency said USDA’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer agreed with the recommendation.

Under Executive Order 13520, “Reducing Improper Payments,” the OIG is required review USDA’s quarterly high-dollar overpayment reports and make recommendations, as necessary, to agencies’ plans to recover and prevent high-dollar overpayments.

To be reportable as a high-dollar overpayment, an overpayment is identified as being made for at least 50 percent more than the correct amount, and as exceeding a certain threshold. The executive order defines the threshold for a reportable overpayment as more than $5,000 in total to an individual for the quarter and as more than $25,000 in total to an entity for the quarter.


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