MCLEAN, Va., and BEDFORD, Mass., Aug. 06, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- MITRE is offering innovators the chance to solve a national problem, safeguard billions of tax-payer dollars, make government connections, and win up to $50,000. The MITRE Challenge is an 8-week-long competition that is open to individual entrepreneurs, college teams, state and local government representatives (if their organizations support their participation), and large and small for-profit and not-for-profit entities.MITRE is launching this Strengthening Eligibility Verification Challenge on August 6 to engage creative inventors to find groundbreaking approaches to solving the problem of improper enrollment in federal benefit programs.

The Challenge seeks to discover innovative, cost-effective solutions that government agencies can use to improve the verification of benefit eligibility in federal programs.

In 2017, federal agencies spent nearly $141 billion on improper payments. These are payments from federal benefit programs that—due to fraud or error—should not have been made or were made in the wrong amount. The total has increased 33 percent since 2013. To spotlight the problem, the 2018 President’s Management Agenda listed “Getting Payments Right” as one of its 14 Cross-Agency Priority goals.

It is difficult for agencies to efficiently and cost-effectively verify the eligibility of people applying for benefits. About 25 percent of improper payments occur because agencies do not verify with certainty that the people they paid were eligible. Systems and processes for determining benefit eligibility must be strengthened against fraud, error, and abuse. At the same time, the systems need to be efficient and user-friendly and need to protect individuals’ privacy.

Registration for the Challenge is now open. Additional information about the Challenge, including a webinar, will be available for participants in September. The Challenge will officially kick off in October, when participants will be given access to the hypothetical scenario. They will have 8 weeks to complete it.

For guidelines, background information, a timeline, and an entry form, please visit https://www.mitre.org/research/mitre-challenge/mitre-challenge-eligibility-verification.

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