We’ve all experienced a number of issues in our daily lives that can only be described as “first world problems.” Examples include your latte only coming with one espresso shot instead of the two you asked for, being tired of all the restaurants within a reasonable distance from your house, or when your remote is broken and you have to change the channel manually.
Needless to say, there’s quite a difference between “first world problems” and actual problems. And on that note, we’d like to introduce a new concept: government problems, defined as such: “levels of incompetence only made possible by bureaucracy.”
Here’s just one example, courtesy of the Daily Caller: The government’s plan to stop wasting hundreds of billions of dollars each year on improper payments isn’t working as designed. Federal agencies wasted $137 billion on improper payments in 2015
The Do Not Pay (DNP) system, created by the Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, combines several federal databases that agencies can use as a tool to check whether the recipient of a contract, grant, loan or other government payment was truly eligible to receive the money.
Without the DNP system working properly, the government is trapped in an expensive “pay and chase” process, where agencies have to catch overpayments or wrongful payments and recover the funds later. Ideally, agencies would reduce improper payments by checking contract and grant recipients in the database, but for a variety of reasons, agencies rarely, if ever, use the system.
Failure to address the improper payments would continue “an unsustainable long-term fiscal path,” as the GAO said in its report on improper payments last year.
The GAO said that the 10 agencies they audited were able to prevent around $2 billion in improper payments last year, but very little of that was saved by using the DNP. Most agencies have their own systems for avoiding giving contracts and grants to ineligible recipients. The DNP database itself was only responsible for $680,000 saved in 2015, the GAO notes.
Not only is the government incapable of stopping spending money on nonsense, they can’t stop spending it on nothing either.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]