The Payment Integrity Information Act of 2019 (PIIA) requires agencies to identify, report, and reduce improper payments in their programs. For fiscal year 2020, the Department of Transportation reported one program, the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Highway Planning and Construction (HPC) Program, as susceptible to significant improper payments and subject to PIIA reporting requirements. HPC reported total expenditures of over $46 billion and DOT estimated that about $172 million of those payments were improper. PIIA also requires inspectors general to annually report on their agencies’ compliance. Our audit objective was to determine whether DOT complied with PIIA’s requirements as prescribed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). We reviewed the improper payment testing results published in DOT’s fiscal year 2020 Annual Financial Report (AFR) and posted to the Federal Government’s Payment Accuracy website and used statistical sampling to test transactions.
What We Found
DOT is in compliance with PIIA. For fiscal year 2020, DOT reported improper payment estimates for FHWA’s HPC. The payment integrity information in DOT’s 2020 AFR and data posted to the Payment Accuracy website was accurate and complete. DOT also conducted risk assessments of programs as the Office of Management and Budget requires. The Department published its planned and completed corrective actions in its supplemental data call posted to the Payment Accuracy website. DOT’s corrective action plans appear adequately designed, focused on true root causes, and effectively implemented and prioritized with an emphasis on reducing improper payments. Furthermore, for fiscal year 2020, FHWA’s HPC Program surpassed its fiscal year 2020 improper payment reduction target of 0.85 percent, reporting estimated improper payments of 0.37 percent or about $172 million—a decrease of $224 million from 2019. Lastly, DOT continues to take steps to reduce and recapture improper payments through its risk assessments, annual improper payment testing, and payment recapture audits.