GAO report: Pentagon spent nearly $1B on improper travel payments

Aug. 16 (UPI) — The Department of Defense incorrectly distributed nearly a billion dollars in travel fees over a three- year period, a General Accounting Office report said.

The 54-page report, issued this week, noted that “improper payments — including payments that should not have been made or were made in an incorrect amount — are a long-standing, significant challenge in the federal government. Both GAO and the DOD Inspector General have reported on problems related to improper payments in DOD’s travel pay program.”

It noted that in fiscal years from 2016 to 2018, the Defense Department disbursed $18.3 billion after travelers submitted expense vouchers for refunds. About $965.5 million was improperly distributed.

The report added that beginning in 2017, the Defense Department began estimating the loss, and established a remediation plan. It chose 10 of its agencies for additional scrutiny, but the report said they were the 10 with the largest number of travel payments in 2016 and not because they had the highest rates of improper travel payments.

“Thus, DOD lacks assurance that the components it selected for greatest scrutiny were the ones most at risk for improper travel payments,” the report said.

GAO recommendations included data on improper payment rates in its remediation approach, a better definition of the term “root cause,” and consideration of cost effectiveness in deciding how to address improper payments.

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