Several Federal agencies that have banded together to study ways to improve financial management policies and practices have released a new simulation tool that aims to illustrate concepts for improving identity verification and potentially reduce improper payments.

The Identity (ID) Verification Controls Simulator was produced by the Joint Financial Management Improvement Program (JFMIP).  The program is a joint effort of the Treasury Department, the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of Personnel Management, and the Government Accountability Office, employing 20 different experts from those agencies.

The simulator tool allows prospective agencies and their partners to simulate a hypothetical situation in which they are able to see how ID Verification tool can help them manage their payments.

“In this interactive illustration, you are the manager of a hypothetical federal program that makes one-time payments to applicants,” JFMIP said. “These applicants may either be proper (someone who accurately provides their own identity) or improper applicants (someone who provides a misrepresented identity) in their attempts to receive the one-time payments.”

“The simulator is just an illustration, but you can leverage the insights you gain from using it to start conversations about how identity verification controls might be appropriate for your organization or program,” said Andrew Kurtman, Assistant Director Science, Technology Assessment and Analytics, at GAO.

The use of better identity technology in government payments has become more of a high-profile issue since the government’s improper payment rate soared during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said in January that governmentwide improper payments – defined as payments that shouldn’t have been made or were made for incorrect amounts – jumped to 7.2 percent in Fiscal Year 2021 with the increase driven in part by soaring rates of unemployment insurance fraud during the coronavirus pandemic. The 7.2 percent improper payment rate for FY2021 represented a 32 percent jump from an estimated 5.6 percent improper payment rate for FY2020.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee last month approved legislation that aims to use data analytics and other technologies to help reduce and prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in Federal government programs. The committee’s approval of the measure sent the Strengthening Tools to Obstruct and Prevent Fraud Act of 2022 to the full House for consideration.


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Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.