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Obama wants 'do not pay' list to save money

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will order federal agencies Friday to establish a national "do not pay" list to prevent the government from paying benefits, contracts, grants and loans to ineligible people or organizations, according to senior administration officials.

The moves are part of a series to cut government waste and fraud and come amid calls for more fiscal restraint from Republicans and moderate Democrats.

A memo Obama is set to sign today instructs the Treasury Department, Office of Management and Budget and General Services Administration to establish a government-wide database to ensure agencies no longer send government checks to dead people, delinquent or jailed contractors and other barred or suspended firms, said officials familiar with the memo and not authorized to speak on the record. About 20,000 separate payments totaling $182 million were sent to dead people in the last three years, according to OMB.

The administration also will announce plans on Friday for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to use an online fraud-detection program developed by federal watchdogs who are tracking the economic stimulus program. CMS made $65 billion in erroneous payments in fiscal year 2009, and officials expect the tool will help the agency keep closer tabs on medical providers by conducting deeper background checks.

Today's announcements follow several other cost-cutting orders from Obama. Federal agencies must find ways to trim at least 5 percent from their budgets and $8 billion worth of federal building costs. The White House also wants the Air Force to renegotiate costly cellphone plans and expects agencies to scale back the amount of time and money required to hire new federal workers.

Republicans want deeper cuts and are pushing to freeze congressional budgets and federal workers' salaries. Some GOP lawmakers also want the Internal Revenue Service to collect $3 billion in unpaid taxes owed by delinquent federal workers.

Obama wants 'do not pay' list to save money 06/17/10 [Last modified: Thursday, June 17, 2010 11:22pm]
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