The federal government made more than $136 billion in improper payments in 2015, according to a new report from a government watchdog.
Improper payments are defined as payments that shouldn't have been made or were made in the wrong amounts.
According to the report from the Government Accountability Office made public Tuesday, 122 federal programs reported an estimated $136.7 billion in improper payments in 2015. For 2016, the GAO estimates improper payments from 112 agency programs will total $144.3 billion.
From 2003 to 2016, such payments have totaled an estimated $1.2 trillion.
Of that $136.7 billion, 96 percent — about $132 billion— was spent on improper payments from 52 programs associated with 15 federal agencies in 2015.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., the top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee who requested the report, said it's "unacceptable" that billions of dollars are being "wasted."
"Whatever the political circus in Washington looks like, this is an area where Democrats and Republicans can and should work together, and that's what I plan to do," McCaskill said in a statement.
Federal agencies are required to review all programs, identify those that may be prone to improper payments, and publish estimates of improper payments under the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act of 2012 (IPERA).
According to the GAO, 15 of 24 federal agencies violated IPERA in 2015.
Seven of the 24 agencies were found to be noncompliant for three consecutive years: The Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury, and the Small Business Administration and Social Security Administration.
Those agencies are now required to submit a report to Congress outlining steps they'll take to reduce improper payments.
In the Department of Agriculture, the noncompliant programs include the National School Lunch Program, Special Supplement Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children and the School Breakfast Program.
Others include the Department of Treasury's Earned Income Tax Credit and the Department of Health and Human Services Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
Programs with the highest amount of improper payments in 2015 include: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, which spent more than $2.5 billion in improper payments; Medicaid, which made $29 billion in improper payments; the Earned Income Tax Credit, which estimated improper payments of $15.6 billion; and Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance, which paid out $5 billion in improper payments.