Bombshell Report Reveals $77.2B Improperly Paid Through Unemployment in 2021
The Department of Labor carried out more than $77 billion worth of improper payments in 2021, according to an audit report released last week.
As such, the Labor Department failed to comply fully with the 2019 Payment Integrity Information Act, which laid down requirements for the federal government to cut down improper payments, the Labor Department’s Office of the Inspector General concluded in the July 1 report.
The report was developed by the OIG in collaboration with accounting firm KPMG to fulfill the Act’s provisions requiring federal departments and agencies to report to the Office of Management and Budget on improper payments in government benefit programs.
Out of the $413 billion in payments the Labor Department made as part of its unemployment insurance program, $77.2 billion or 18.71 percent were improper payments, the report found.
Furthermore, $865 million or 0.21 percent of the money the program paid out in total last year were unknown payments, where the agency cannot identify if the payments were proper or not, the report said.
According to data from PaymentAccuracy.gov, the 18.71 percent improper payment rate for the unemployment insurance program marked a massive rise from figures in previous years, The Epoch Times reported.
The rise came while the nation was still suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government lost around $408 million in the unemployment insurance program last year due to administrative and processing errors made by state and local agencies, according to PaymentAccuracy.gov data.
Approximately $260 million in losses incurred by the program came through a failure to verify, the PaymentAccuracy.gov data stated.
Speaking to the Times on Wednesday, Republican House Rep. Rick Allen of Georgia, who sits on the House Education and Labor Committee, said that he was co-sponsoring a bill that would help cut down on government waste like the one the OIG report revealed.
“It’s unacceptable that criminals utilized a global health crisis to defraud the United States government’s unemployment programs,” Allen said.
“Even worse, the misguided Biden administration policies, which discouraged people from going back to work, incentivized scammers to steal more money from the American taxpayer,” the congressman added.
Allen told the newspaper that he was working with Republican House Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas on the Chase COVID Unemployment Fraud Act.
According to the bill’s draft text, the legislation would “provide incentives for States to recover fraudulently paid Federal and State unemployment compensation, and for other purposes.”
The OIG report also stated that four of the Labor Department’s programs were at risk of having “significant improper payments in FY 2021.”
Aside from the unemployment insurance program and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation programs, the risky programs included the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act program, according to the OIG report.
Republican House Rep. Jackie Walorski of Indiana told the Times that it was “painfully obvious that brazen criminals capitalized on pandemic relief programs and stole billions from hardworking American taxpayers.”
Walorski said that Biden and the Democrats should work with Republicans “to take this crisis seriously, expose fraud and hold criminals accountable.”
“We must send a clear signal that fraud will not be tolerated,” Walorski said.
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