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Is there any accountability left in the Federal Government?

A fair and balanced answer can only be: Obviously not. And when you ask how I know, I point no further than to yesterday's testimony by the General Accounting Office (GAO) before the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management of the U.S. Senate (abstract, highlights, or entire report Adobe required). The testimony concerned GAO's study of improper payments, a 25-cent term if there ever was one. Rest assured, however, that taxpayer dollars are involved. GAO notes that such payments "are a longstanding and significant problem, and, incredibly, they are a growing problem, increasing from $20.7 billion in 1999 to $45.4 billion in 2004. Even worse, they are likely to go higher, the GAO says, because there were no estimates in 2004 for 12 programs with outlays of $248.7 billion. Of the 12, five agencies told GAO they expect to report estimates in 2005, but four programs did not bother to report when they plan to even though such reporting is required under the Improper Payments Information Act (IPIA) of 2002, and were previously required under OMB Circular A-11, a policy directive of the President's Office of Management and Budget. Question for your Senator: has anyone in the Federal government been fired for failing to report improper payments?