The U.S. Department of Agriculture serves to enhance food safety by taking steps to reduce the prevalence of food borne hazards from farm to table, improve nutrition and health by providing food assistance and nutrition education, expand markets for agricultural products and support international economic development, and provide financing needed to help expand job opportunities and improve housing, utilities and infrastructure in rural America. The Department’s $225 billion in budgetary resources ensures the operation of the Food and Nutrition Service, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Forest Service, and Farm Service Agency amongst many other organizations. Like other agencies, it is committed to pursuing this important mission while managing its finances effectively, which includes ensuring its payments are accurate, using only property it needs, and accounting for its finances properly.
The Administration is working with Federal and State partners, Congress, and other stakeholders to reduce government-wide improper payments without negatively impacting citizen access to needed programs. "Improper payments" can be overpayments or underpayments, and occur when funds go to the wrong recipient, the recipient receives the incorrect amount of funds, documentation is not available to support a payment, or the recipient uses funds in an improper manner. The government must better ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and efficiently. The information here shows the current and target improper payment rates for the agency – or, if the agency does not have this information, the government-wide rate. You can learn more about our efforts to reduce improper payments at the newly launched PaymentAccuracy.gov. Additionally, if applicable, more detail is provided below on programs that an agency determines are susceptible to significant improper payments (specifically, improper payments greater than $10 million and over 2.5 percent of all annual payments made under that program, or improper payments over $100 million regardless of the improper payment rate).
*Error rate information for some programs may be slightly different than the error rates reported in USDA’s FY 2011 PAR.
In addition to reducing payments made improperly, we must work to recapture any improper payments quickly. Under the Recovery Auditing Act (Section 831 of the 2002 Defense Authorization Act), agencies with more than $500 million in annual contract outlays were required to review their contract payments for improper payments. The Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2010 expands these payment recapture audit activities further. Since fiscal year 2004, agencies have been reporting on their efforts to identify and recapture improper contract payments in their annual financial reports. This metric shows the total amount of improper contract payments recovered by all agencies in fiscal years 2009 and 2010, as well as our government-wide goal for recapturing improper payments in the future. While the Administration has set a government-wide target of recapturing at least $2 billion in improper contract outlays between fiscal year 2010 and fiscal year 2012, agency-specific targets have not yet been developed.