U.S. Budget
A cemetery in Linden, N.J. REUTERS

Deficit hawks urging the government to trim pensions for federal workers could start with the $600 million that has flowed to dead workers over the last five years.

Checks intended for disabled or retired federal workers continued to go out even after those workers died because of lapses in reporting the deaths, according to a report released Office of Personnel Management's inspector general, Patrick McFarland. A 2005 paper from the same office first identified the problem, but attempts to rectify the situation have so far fallen short.

Director John Berry and I agree that it is time to stop, once and for all, this waste of taxpayer money, McFarland wrote, adding later that there remains a high probability that egregious loss of monies from the CSRDF will continue and require strategic corrective actions.

The report details a particularly egregious case in which an annuitant's son received $515,000 from the time of his father's death in 1971 to 2008. The report's recommendations included comparing people on active annuity rolls with death records kept by the Social Security Administration.