Government Bytes

Blog 

GAO Report Highlights "Mother Lode" of Government Waste

by Brandon Greife / /

In his State of the Union address President Obamasaid that we must create a “government that’s more competent and moreefficient.” He highlighted the duplicative nature of Washington, joking thatfresh water salmon and saltwater salmon are regulated by two different agencies,but “it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.”

Somethingtells me President Obama is no longer laughing after the GovernmentAccountability Office released a report today showing the depth of redundancyand waste Government Accountability Office (GAO). In the report, the governmentwatchdog found that Congress’ penchant for creating programs, but neverreviewing, or eliminating them, has created a labyrinth of duplicative programsthat grows by the year.

If Obamathought two agencies to regulate salmon were bad, the GAO found that the U.S.government has more than 82 programs for monitoring teacher quality, 80programs focusing on economic development, 47 for job training and 15 agenciesthat deal with food safety. Moreover, few of these programs are receiving thenecessary oversight to ensure that taxpayer money isn’t being wasted. Aconsistent refrain found throughout the GAO report was that “little is known aboutthe effectiveness” of a given program because it “has not been well studied.”

ComptrollerGeneral Gene Dodaro wrote that, “Reducing or eliminating duplication, overlap,or fragmentation could potentially save billions of tax dollars annually andhelp agencies provide more efficient and effective services.”

Given theapparent redundancy and waste spread throughout the federal government thequestion becomes whether Democrats will continue to label $4 billion in proposedspending cuts “extreme,” and back off their claim that adopting spending cutswill “undermineand damage our capacity to create jobs and expand the economy.” 

Eliminatingbureaucratic waste while making government more efficient for taxpayers shouldbe a no-brainer for Congress. But as Reagan said, “no government evervoluntarily reduces itself in size.” Fortunately, Rep. Jeff Duncan, has introduceda bill to resurrect the “Committee on Reduction of Nonessential FederalPrograms” tasked with identifying and cutting redundant federal programs. Theidea, a throwback to the “Byrd Committee,” which sought out government waste toease the stress on the nation’s finances prior to World War II, is a welcomeidea given Congress’ $1.65 trillion overspending problem. It’s also the perfectprescription given the GAO’s grim diagnosis.  

PresidentObama was to correct to speak of the need for a more efficient government inhis State of the Union, but it has become clear it is not a laughing matter.Hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money is being needlessly wasted byWashington. If Congress is looking for ways to reduce its deficit, the GAO’sreport and Rep. Duncan’s new “Byrd Committee” are good starting places.