Over half a trillion dollars were lost as a result of “improper payments” in the first two years, according to an audit by Open The Books, which has brought the Biden administration under fire. Data gathered from numerous government organisations revealed a worrying tendency of budgetary mismanagement, with at least $528 billion wrongly handed out. This article will examine the audit’s specifics, list the agencies involved, and talk about how the government and the American people might be affected by the findings.
Credits: (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
The Audit Findings:
“Improper payments” are those that shouldn’t have been made or were made in the wrong amount, according to the analysis by Open The Books. 17 government entities reported inappropriate payments during the first two years of the Biden administration, according to the audit. With an astounding $286.9 billion in erroneous payments, the Department of Health and Human Services topped the list. It was followed by the Treasury Department, which had erroneous payments totaling $51.9 billion, and the Department of Labour, which made improper payments totaling $97.2 billion.
According to the research, the Small Business Administration experienced the largest increase in illegal payments during the fiscal years 2021 and 2022, with an increase of $36 billion. These numbers are so large that they cast doubt on the administrative state’s competence and make one wonder about its capacity to manage taxpayer money efficiently.
In a tweet, Joni Ernst, a former American military officer and a serving politician from the Republican party has questioned the current administration on their investments. In the video, Ernst could be seen targeting the Biden administration by asking them why so much money was invested in China and Russia (countries which happen to be the United States biggest enemies).
— Joni Ernst (@SenJoniErnst) June 8, 2023
Impact on Government Accountability:
The institutionalised incompetence within the administrative state is cited as a serious worry by Adam Andrzejewski, CEO of Open The Books. The report holds Congress accountable as the branch in charge of oversight and spending by exposing a structural problem that cuts across partisan lines. Despite the concerning numbers, only $51.7 billion of the overpayments have been identified for recapture, and only 45% of those money have been collected so far.
Fraud and COVID-19 Relief Programs:
The report also discusses the widespread fraud that has been seen in COVID-19 relief programmes. Approximately $400 billion in fraud was committed through Department of Labor-managed jobless security programmes, according to Michael Horowitz, Inspector General of the Department of Justice. The inspector general estimated that COVID-specific fraud alone cost $100 billion. These numbers highlight the system’s flaws and the necessity for stronger security measures to protect taxpayer money.
Pervasive Issue of Payments to Deceased Individuals:
Payments made to deceased people were another frequent issue that was found during the audit. Federal retirement services, old-age, survivors, and disability insurance, along with Social Security, made payouts totaling $974.3 million to deceased recipients during the course of the two-year period. The Social Security Administration alone paid out approximately $42 million to roughly 500 deceased people during the 2018 fiscal year, demonstrating the government’s habit of making such errors. In order to avoid erroneous payments and guarantee that taxpayer money is used effectively, this problem necessitates more robust mechanisms.
The audit’s conclusions about more than $500 billion in erroneous payments made in the first two years of the Biden administration raise questions about the capacity of the government to adequately handle tax dollars. In order to ensure adequate supervision and auditing, Congress and the executive branch must share responsibility, according to the report, which emphasises the need for improved accountability. The frequent issuing of payments to deceased people and the prevalence of fraud within COVID-19 relief programmes highlight the need for improved protections and streamlined procedures in order to protect taxpayer funds and preserve public confidence in the government’s financial management.