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USDA made $6.2 billion in improper payments in 2013, report says

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) made $6.2 billion in improper payments in 2013, according to the Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The OIG released an audit earlier this month that found that at least $416 million in waste could have been avoided if the agency had met its reduction targets mandated by the Improper Payment Information Act (IPIA). In fact, the USDA has failed to comply with the law for a third consecutive year.

“This occurred because some of USDA’s actions were not effective or completed to achieve compliance,” the audit said. “These noncompliances continue to illustrate the risks of improper payments affecting taxpayers, as USDA could have avoided approximately $416 million in improper payments by meeting reduction targets.”

The report noted that the agency runs more than 300 programs, spending $159 billion a year. Sixteen of those programs are considered “high-risk” for waste, fraud, and abuse, including the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), which administers food stamps, and the school breakfast and lunch programs.

The School Breakfast Program had the highest rate for improper payments in 2013, with over a quarter of all disbursements being incorrect. The 25.26 percent of improper payments amounted to $831 million, of which $716 million were overpayments to schools.

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