AGRIBUSINESS: OIG Reviews USDA Reports On Overpayments

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According to an Office of Inspector General review of USDA’s fiscal year 2012 quarterly reports on high-dollar overpayments, the department reported more comprehensive information than in previous years.

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The OIG found that, due to improved reporting oversight and processes, USDA reported 239 overpayments totaling around $20.3 million in fiscal year 2012, an increase of 67% over the number of overpayments reported the previous year.

The OIG also determined the quarterly reports included errors and were published up to 102 days late. Without accurate and timely reporting, the OIG reports the effects of USDA’s actions or strategies to eliminate the errors causing the high-dollar overpayments aren’t fully known. OIG recommended the department provide additional oversight over the processes of component agencies to ensure their high-dollar overpayment reports comply with departmental reporting guidance. According to OIG, USDA’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer agreed with the recommendation.

Executive Order 13520 - Reducing Improper Payments - requires the OIG to review USDA's quarterly high-dollar overpayment reports and make recommendations, as necessary, to agency plans to recover and prevent high-dollar overpayments.

To be reportable as a high-dollar overpayment, an overpayment is identified as being made for at least 50-percent more than the correct amount and as exceeding a certain threshold. The Executive Order defines the threshold for a reportable overpayment as more than $5,000 in total to an individual for the quarter and as more than $25,000 in total to an entity for the quarter.