The Payment Integrity Information Act of 2019 (PIIA) requires agencies to identify, report, and reduce improper payments in programs susceptible to significant improper payments. For fiscal year 2021, the Department of Transportation (DOT) tested three programs with total expenditures over $49 billion and estimated that about 1.41 percent were improper payments. PIIA also requires inspectors general to report annually on their agencies’ compliance. Accordingly, our audit objective was to determine whether DOT complied in 2021 with PIIA’s requirements.
What We Found
DOT is in compliance with PIIA requirements. For fiscal year 2021, DOT reported improper payment estimates for three susceptible programs. The payment integrity information in DOT’s 2021 Agency Financial Report and data posted to the Payment Accuracy website were accurate and complete. A clerical error related to payment recapture data for two programs occurred but did not impact DOT’s compliance with PIIA. DOT conducted four risk assessments for programs and reported one program, the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act program, susceptible to significant improper payments. DOT published improper and unknown payment amounts and estimated future rates on the Payment Accuracy website. However, we found issues with the universe population identification procedures for the Federal Aviation Administration’s and FTA’s Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 activities. The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Highway Planning and Construction Program did not meet its reduction target of .80 percent and reported estimated improper payments about $697 million. The total estimate did not impact FHWA’s compliance with PIIA. For fiscal year 2021, DOT reported an improper and unknown payment estimate of less than 10 percent. FHWA improved its corrective action plan by focusing on root causes of improper and unknown payments and prioritized these actions.
DOT concurred with our three recommendations to help improve its reporting processes for improper payments. We consider these recommendations resolved but open pending completion of planned actions.
No. 1 to OST
Design and implement controls to confirm that its annual PIIA reporting to the Payment Accuracy website is accurate.
No. 2 to OST
Develop and implement a process to verify that population identification procedures used to create the universe for the statistical sampling of improper payments include adequate information, with detailed instructions to reproduce the same results.
No. 3 to OST
Implement a quality assurance process to verify that population identification procedures are followed.