FEMA yet to recoup large percentage of improper and duplicate payments

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.

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