An investigation by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) revealed that government agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), have collected only a small portion of incorrectly spent taxpayer money.
As POGO's blog explains, incorrect agency spending can be manifested in a number of ways, including duplicate payments, overpayments, payments to the wrong person or group, payments to nonexistent vendors and compensation for services not actually rendered. A POGO-executed recovery audit conducted using FEMA's improper payment record revealed that the disaster recovery agency had only recouped approximately one-third (34 percent) of the millions of dollars' worth of improper payments disbursed since 2005.
The source cites a report from the Department of Homeland Security that speculated as much as $643 million of the $7 billion in individual assistance payments provided to Hurricane Katrina victims had been improperly spent. Of the $16.5 million that was subject to a finding of fraud, $5.5 million was collected.
Last month, FEMA sent out letters to approximately 89,000 people across the country informing them that they could seek a waiver of the recoupment effort the agency launched last spring, The Gazette reports.