New MITRE challenge takes on improper federal payments

The company is hoping a simple solution can solve a big, costly problem.
(Pictures of Money / Flickr)

The government spends a lot of money on erroneous benefits payments, but the MITRE Corp. thinks it can crowdsource solutions to this costly problem.

The company launched a challenge Monday aimed at strengthening the “eligibility verification” protocol that individuals applying for benefits must go through. It’s a partnership with a whole host of federal agencies, including the departments of Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, Labor and more. The eight-week-long competition is open to entrepreneurs, college teams, state and local government representatives, and both nonprofit and for-profit entities. And, there’s a $50,000 prize pot up for grabs.

Solutions should be affordable, ready for implementation without major legislative change and should not make life much more difficult for authentic federal benefits recipients.

The initiative ties in with one of the President’s Management Agenda’s cross-agency priority (CAP) goal for “Getting Payments Right.”


“While all improper payments can compromise citizens’ trust in Government, only a portion stem from fraud or lead to actual loss of taxpayer dollars,” the CAP goal page reads. “In addition to the incorrect payments themselves, improper payments also impose costs associated with fixing mistakes and recovering funds.”

According to a MITRE press release, the federal government spent about $141 billion in improper payments in 2017 alone. And according to, the government has only been able to recover $0.47 of every $1.00 overpayment identified between 2013 and 2017.

Interested challenge participants can register now — the official event will kick off in October.

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