In its latest report, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found government agencies made about $175 billion in improper payments. Of that total, USDA was responsible for $6.7 billion in improper spending to food stamps or farm programs.
The improper payments boil down to payments that never should have been made in the first place, or those made in the wrong amount, according to GAO. Improper payments increased year-over-year as 2018 only resulted in $151 billion spent incorrectly.
“However, the federal government’s ability to understand the full scope of its improper payments is hindered by incomplete, unreliable or understated agency estimates; risk assessments that may not accurately assess the risk of improper payment; and agencies not complying with reporting and other requirements in the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2010,” the report continues.
Of the $6.7 billion USDA spent improperly, just under $1 billion of it went directly to farmer-facing programs. These improper payments are as follows:
- $612 million paid through Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage, improper payments were not reported in 2018.
- $282.5 million paid in crop insurance funding, compared to $184.2 of improper payments in 2018.
- $42.5 million in crop disaster assistance programs—about 23% of the payments were improper, the highest percent by farm program and up from $26.6 million in 2018.
“Improper payments… continue to be an area of fiscal concern in the federal government,” GAO reports. “Improper payments have been estimated to total almost $1.7 trillion government-wide from fiscal years 2003 to 2019.”