The U.S. Agriculture Department paid out $32 million in soil conservation payments and crop insurance aid to dead farmers from 2008 to 2012, congressional auditors said on Monday, calling for stricter rules to prevent improper payments.
In a report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said two USDA agencies did not routinely check master lists compiled by the government to assure payments go only to living recipients. Contracts with USDA often are voided by death, but payments can flow to heirs for work already performed.
USDA said the problem was not as broad-scale as auditors suggested in citing potentially improper payments to 4,537 recipients. Some payments were made properly, but errors in recordkeeping misidentified recipients, it said.