Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Law | Tags: Busy Bureacracies, Drowning in Government Waste, Nobody Knows Where the Money Goes
The nonpartisan General Accounting Office (GAO) has found a massive amount of government waste as a result of way too many people doing the same things. Why are we not surprised? They have identified 34 areas where Congress can make significant savings. The GAO study was ordered in an amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) attached to last years’ debt limit resolution. Coburn estimates that it could be as much as $200 billion — the “mother lode of government waste.”
“This report confirms what most Americans assume about their government,” Coburn said. “We are spending trillions of dollars every year and nobody knows what we are doing. The executive branch doesn’t know. The congressional branch doesn’t know. Nobody knows.”
Coburn predicted that the findings would “make us all look like jackasses” and would contain enough actionable information to “keep Congress busy for the rest of the year.”
- Eight federal agencies oversee 80 programs to provide “transportation for the transportation disadvantaged.” 23 of these programs The agencies don’t often track transportation costs from other program costs, but 23 of these programs were allotted $1.7 billion in 2009.
- The Department of Transportation funds more than 100 “surface transportation” programs overseen by five different agencies (and 6,000 employees) at an annual cost of $60 billion. “The current approach to surface transportation was established in 1956 to build the Interstate Highway System, but has not evolved to reflect current priorities in transportation planning.”
- At least five departments, eight agencies, and more than 24 presidential appointees have been tasked with coordinating an effective defense against a biological terror attack, at a cost of $6.5 billion. But, the report concludes, “There is no national plan…and the U.S. lacks the technical and operational capabilities required for an adequate response.”
- Domestic ethanol tax expenditures, totaling close to $6 billion, are largely unneeded today to ensure demand for domestic ethanol production.”
- Ten agencies oversee 82 distinct programs on “teacher quality” at an annual cost of more than $4 billion. “There is no government wide strategy to minimize fragmentation, overlap or duplication among these programs.”
- Federal data centers grew in number from 432 in 1998 to more than 2,000 in 2010, cost up to $450 million annually. The government could save between $150 billion and $200 billion over the next decade by consolidating these centers.
- Nine federal agencies operate 47 job-training programs,44 of which overlap with at least one other program. These programs cost $18 billion in 2009, but GAO found that because they duplicate each other, little is known about their effectiveness.
- Twenty federal agencies run 56 programs designed to promote “financial literacy,” but nobody knows how much they cost because agencies do not have an estimate for spending on “financial literacy.”
Here’s the full report from the General Accounting Office, if you want to be surprised at government waste or conversely, have your worst suspicions confirmed.
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