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The Obama Administration is making an effort to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in federal programs, including by reducing and recapturing erroneous payments, as illustrated by Executive Order 13520 (Nov. 20, 2009), and in a March 10, 2010, memorandum to the heads of executive departments and agencies. Now the administration is making clear its goal of preventing payment errors before they occur. That could be quite productive - the Office of Management and Budget ("OMB") says that over the past three years, the federal government paid out benefits totaling more than $180 million to approximately 20,000 Americans who were dead, and more $230 million in benefits to approximately 14,000 fugitive felons or those in jail and who were not eligible for benefits.
To remedy that problem, the president has now directed federal departments and agencies to review current pre-payment and pre-award procedures and “ensure that a thorough review of available databases with relevant information on eligibility occurs before the release” of any federal funds, to the extent permitted by law. At a minimum, this means that the government, before payment and award, will be checking the following existing databases (where applicable and permitted by law) to verify eligibility: the Social Security Administration's Death Master File, the General Services Administration's Excluded Parties List System, the Department of the Treasury's Debt Check Database, the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Credit Alert System or Credit Alert Interactive Voice Response System, and the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General's List of Excluded Individuals/Entities.