Number:  112-27
Date:  December 21, 2012

The Senate Passes H.R. 4053
The Improper Payments Elimination and
Recovery Improvement Act of 2012

On December 20, 2012, the Senate passed H.R. 4053, the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act of 2012, by unanimous consent, without amendments.  The House passed the bill on December 13, 2012, as described in Legislative Bulletin 112-26.  The bill would require Federal agencies to identify and stop erroneous payments to contractors and program beneficiaries. The bill now awaits the President’s signature to become law.

Following are provisions of interest to SSA.

Improving the Determination of Improper Payments by Federal Agencies

  • Would require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to:
    • Identify annually Federal programs for greater levels of oversight and review based on highest dollar value or highest rate of improper payments, or a higher risk of improper payments;
    • Coordinate with agencies with high-risk programs, to establish annual targets and semi-annual or quarterly actions for reducing improper payments; and,
    • Provide guidance to agencies for improving estimates of improper payments.

  • Would require agencies with high-risk programs to report to their Inspectors General annually and make such reports available to the public.

Do Not Pay Initiative

  • Would require agencies to review prepayment and pre-award procedures and ensure that a thorough review of certain available databases (including the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) death master file (DMF)) occurs prior to release of any funds.

  • Would establish the Do Not Pay Initiative including use of certain databases (including the DMF) and other databases designated by OMB.

  • Would require OMB to:
    • Consider any database that substantially assists in preventing improper payments and provide public notice and an opportunity for comment before requiring use of such database;
    • Submit an annual report to Congress evaluating whether the Do Not Pay Initiative has reduced improper payments;
    • Provide Congress with a plan for inclusion of other databases, agency access to the Initiative, and the multilateral data use agreements within 60 days of enactment; and,
    • Establish a working system for prepayment and pre-award reviews that includes the Do Not Pay Initiative within 90 days of enactment.
  • Would require each agency to review all payments and awards for all programs no later than June 1, 2013.
  • Would acknowledge that current law may require agencies to make awards or payments regardless of whether the applicant or beneficiary is on the Do Not Pay Initiative.
  • Would amend the Privacy Act to allow for data use agreements between and among multiple Federal agencies.
  • Would require OMB, in consultation with SSA and other relevant agencies, to issue guidance for agencies regarding implementing these agreements, including standards for:
    • Reimbursement of costs;
    • Retention and timely destruction of records in accordance with the Privacy Act; and,
    • Prohibitions on duplication and redisclosure of records.

  • Would require the Attorney General, within one year of enactment, to submit to Congress recommendations for increasing the use of, access to, and technical feasibility of using Federal, State, and local conviction and incarceration databases to identify and prevent improper payments.
  • Would also require OMB to consult with stakeholders, States, and SSA to establish a plan for improving the quality and timeliness of death data maintained by SSA.  Such a plan would be required to include recommended actions by the agencies that would:
    • Increase the quality and frequency of access to the Death Master File and other death data;
    • Achieve a goal of at least daily access as appropriate;
    • Provide for all States and other data providers to use improved and electronic means for providing data; and,
    • Address improper payments made by agencies to deceased individuals as part of Federal retirement programs.

  • Would require a report to Congress no later than 120 days after enactment on the plan. This report would include recommended legislation.


Improving the Recovery of Improper Payments

  • Would require OMB to determine current and historical rates and amounts of improper payments recovery, including a list of agency recovery audit contract programs and specific information of amounts and payments recovered by recovery audit contractors.
  • Would also require OMB to determine targets for recovering improper payments, including specific information on amounts and payments recovered by recovery audit contractors.