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The Five Initatives



SSA and EPA are on the board with greens for Improved Financial Performance! That's a real accomplishment - one of which they can be justifiably proud. The green score means that they've gone beyond achieving the standards of sound financial management, like clean opinions on financial statements or sound financial systems. SSA and EPA have access to accurate financial information on a regular basis and are using it to make better day-to-day decisions about program management.

The standard for having integrated financial and performance management systems supporting day-to-day operations is the toughest to meet. But it's the standard that proves financial information isn't being compiled solely for financial information's sake; it's being used to perform missions more efficiently and more effectively. Here are examples how SSA and EPA demonstrate this standard:

  • The Social Security Administration keeps close tabs on its resources, especially its human resources. It assesses the timeliness of case processing in the various field locations within a region, and then moves work around to ensure that cases are handled as timely as possible.
  • EPA negotiates performance commitments with grantees and provides resources based on those commitments. If a grantee isn't meeting its commitments, EPA may withhold resources from the non-performers and redirect those resources to grantees that are meeting their commitments.

To find out to find additional characteristics of a green agency, contact Dale Sopper at SSA or Linda Combs at EPA. In each agency, they are not just collecting good financial information, they are also analyzing it and acting on it to improve program performance.

We can also report that agencies are reducing erroneous payments, which is integral not only to sound financial management, but to program integrity. Any dollar lost to waste, fraud, and abuse is one that is diverted from a program's purpose. The Medicare program has an error rate of 6.3 percent, down from 6.8 percent in 2000. The Food Stamps program reduced its error rate from 8.66 percent in 2001 to 8.26 percent in 2002, which means that we prevented $73 million from being paid erroneously.

To date, the initiative to reduce erroneous payments has shown that in programs making about $900 billion in payments, erroneous payments exceed $35 billion annually. But we have expanded the reach of our effort to reduce erroneous payments. Guidance implementing the Improper Payments Information Act will require agencies to assess the risk of erroneous payments in all the programs and activities they administer. For the first time ever, the government will be assessing the accuracy every Federal payment made.

I'll be visiting with all the CFO's to see what help we can provide in meeting these new requirements and reducing erroneous payments. For the first time ever, we'll be providing scrutiny to every federal dollar we spend. The taxpayers will benefit.

Yours truly,

Linda Springer

The Five Initatives:

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