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Ohio developed a tool to review all state agencies’ payment transactions from January through September and found 56 duplicate payments worth more than $117,000.
Within the 18 million payment transactions the state of Ohio makes each year, there are bound to be a few mistakes.
But thanks to a new data analytics tool, the state has been able to reduce the number of times it double pays for services.
A pilot program conducted through the state’s InnovateOhio Platform reviewed all payment transactions the state made from January through September. The review identified 56 duplicate payments totaling more than $117,000. The mistaken payments occurred across 22 different agencies, boards and commissions.
“The tool scans every payment, pulls out the ones that might be flagged for duplication,” said Joshua Eck, communications director for Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, who oversees InnovateOhio.
Any potential duplicates are sent to staff in the state’s Office of Budget and Management for review. If a duplicate payment is suspected, staff at the agency then get involved.
One of the most common scenarios in which a duplicate payment is made is when a vendor submits a bill to a state agency and also sends a copy of the documentation to the Office of Budget and Management, Eck said. Other double payments made by mistake included times that the state received multiple invoices.
“The InnovateOhio platform and the technology tools we are building enable us to problem solve in ways that were inefficient or impossible in the past,” said Husted in a statement. “We are now able to work to recover this money and, in the future, we can avoid misspending these tax dollars, which would have previously gone unnoticed.”
The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction had the most duplicates, 13 payments totalling more than $36,000.
OMB now runs reports every other week and reviews are taking place monthly. In the future, the state hopes the reviews will allow OMB to proactively flag potential repeat payments before they are made.
The idea to develop a way to scan all state payments to detect duplicates came from the InnovateOhio staff, Eck said. InnovateOhio operates as a strike force team deploying technology resources to solve a problem, develop a solution and pass oversight and operation of the new fix onto the relevant state agency, he said.
“We didn’t really know what the result might be when we started it,” Eck said of the duplicate payment project. “But technology is changing the way we do everything. If you think there might be a solution, it’s work giving it a try.”
Andrea Noble is a staff correspondent with Route Fifty.