Watchdog group: Feds spend $890,000 on zero-balance bank accounts

April 24, 2013 at 6:01 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 24 (UPI) -- A watchdog group said the federal government will spend at least $890,000 on service fees on bank accounts that have a balance of zero.

Citizens Against Government Waste said there are 13,712 such accounts, that are supposed to be closed but no one has done the paperwork, The Washington Post reported. Wednesday.

Against the backdrop of the sequester budget cuts' furloughing workers, the government will continue to pay $65 per year, per account on these empty accounts, the Post reported.

Thomas Schatz of the watchdog group said, "If anyone had kept open a bank account with no money, and was getting a charge every month, they would do everything they could to close it," adding the government hasn't shown the same kind of concern for taxpayers' money.

"It's just lack of attention to detail. And poor management. And, clearly, the fact that no one gets penalized for paying money to keep the accounts open," Schatz said.

Last year, the Obama Administration's Office of Management and Budget encouraged agencies to crack down on these "zero balance" accounts. And this year, it proposed measures to improve their oversight.

Danny Werfel, the Office of Management and Budget controller, said, "We have worked with agencies to improve the timely closeout of grants. Agencies have made noteworthy progress so far, with the number of zero balance accounts falling by more than 50 percent since the end of fiscal year 2011." At that time, the total was more than 28,000.

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