One of the most persistent problems in the federal government has been improper payments, where funds paid from government services are either an incorrect amount, or shouldn’t have been provided at all. According to Nick Sinai, former U.S. deputy CTO and venture partner at Insight Venture Partners, $144 billion worth of improper payments were made in 2016, $36 billion of which were paid to “ineligible beneficiaries.” Currently the method for stopping improper payments is to “pay and chase,” where the payment has already been made. Though offices within the Treasury have been tasked with making sure these payments aren’t approved in the first place, it’s an uphill battle if they can’t get the right data. “This particular program office is fighting with one arm tied behind its back,” Sinai told Government Matters. “We really haven’t equipped it with the data and the analytics to help other agencies.” Sinai says that with the right tech and the right people, there’s no reason that this problem can’t be solved in the near future. “The administration can do a few things; One, they can focus on this particular issue, they can fast track things at OMB… and they can push for some statutory legislative fixes with IPERIA(Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2012),” Sinai said.
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