The Feds Sent More than 1 Million Coronavirus Stimulus Payments to Dead People, GAO Says
More than 1 million stimulus payments totaling nearly $1.4 billion were sent to deceased Americans during the federal government’s unprecedented emergency spending in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s just one of the major findings in a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report reviewing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the $2.3 trillion stimulus package passed by Congress in late March. In addition to mailing checks to some dead people, the GAO found that federal agencies—like the Small Business Administration, which was tasked with processing more than $600 billion in payments to businesses forced to close by the pandemic—struggled to handle the massive surge in spending. That’s caused confusion and left government auditors unable to do important oversight work.
“Consistent with the urgency of responding to serious and widespread health issues and economic disruptions, agencies have given priority to moving swiftly where possible to distribute funds and implement new programs,” the GAO concluded. “As tradeoffs were made, however, agencies have made only limited progress so far in achieving transparency and accountability goals.”
A major element of the CARES Act was the direct payments of up to $1,200 sent to every American. As of May 31, the Treasury Department had issued more than 160 million payments worth $269.3 billion via paper checks, prepaid debit cards, and direct deposits to bank accounts.
To distribute the money, the Treasury Department use
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