Study: HHS improves at cutting improper payments

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The Department of Health and Human Services has saved the federal government a lot of money by taking steps to curb improper payments in its programs, according to an Office of Management and Budget report.

In all, government departments and agencies reduced the amount of improper payments to programs by a total of $37.3 billion in FY 2005, a 17% drop from $45.1 billion in FY 2004, OMB reported.

HHS showed the greatest improvement over FY 2004. Improper payments in the Medicare program decreased by more than $9 billion, or 44%. The decline is primarily a result of efforts to require adequate documentation from recipients, according to OMB.

An improper payment occurs when federal payments are made "without proper documentation, go to the wrong recipient, are made in the incorrect amount, or used in an improper manner," OMB said.

A copy of OMB's report is at: