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Federal fraud estimate delayed, expected in April

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A first-of-its-kind estimate of the total amount of federal money lost to fraud each year has been delayed, but is expected next month, according to the research arm of Congress.

In February 2023, U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro told the House Ways and Means Committee the Government Accountability Office could have the first-ever total government-wide fraud estimate by the end of the year.

A spokesperson for the GAO said earlier this month that the report had been delayed, but was set for release sometime in April.

The GAO has long been a key source of information about fraud, but it has never produced a government-wide fraud estimate. The agency’s previous reports have noted just how difficult the task could prove.

“Congress has long been interested in knowing how much fraud exists across the federal government. But reliably determining how often fraud occurs – and its impact – is especially challenging,” according to a 2023 GAO report.

That report noted three main challenges. First, federal agencies define fraud differently, making it difficult to study across agencies. Second, fraud, by its very nature, is deceptive and it isn’t always detected or reported. Third, the existing data on fraud is incomplete and inconsistent.