Today the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a scathing report on government waste and inefficiencies. Just a few of the issues included in this 345 page report would make your head spin. The report details overlapping programs, duplication and programs which are already provided by localities. The report goes on to detail mismanagement and lack of sufficient tracking of expenditures throughout the government.
Some of the wasted dollars detailed in the report includes such matters as 47 job-training programs, 44 of which overlap. The federal government runs 80 programs for the “transportation disadvantaged” and has instituted an application processes that wastes both local and federal dollars.
There are 82 programs, spanning 10 government agencies, to improve teacher quality, while local school districts already have such programs in place. 56 programs dealing with financial literacy! The government supports more than 2,000 data centers; a four-fold increase over a decade ago, which by consolidating could save the government more than $200 billion dollars.
The GAO review was able to identify billions of dollars in savings if the Congress had the will to clean up its house, but that would mean placing a priority on budgetary responsibility over bringing home the bacon.
Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said “This report confirms what most Americans assume about their government. 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. This report also shows we could save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars every year without cutting services.”
The timing of this report could not come at a better time for Republicans, who are pushing to reduce current year spending by $61 billion dollars; far less than promised during the campaign, but far more than Democrats want to let go of.
“Reducing or eliminating duplication, overlap or fragmentation could potentially save billions of taxpayer dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services,” the report said.
The examples in the report go on and on, each one more frustrating than the last. We’ve built an uncontrollable bureaucracy that cannot self manage and our elected officials had no concept of the monstrosity they had built. As each special interest group got their slice of the pie, similar slices were being divvied up to other special interests. Everyone got their taste of the taxpayer’s money, over and over again.
When battle lines are once again drawn, over the next two weeks, on slashing government spending, remember that large bureaucracies waste money in big doses, and only shrinking the size of the government and demanding better oversight, will change the trajectory.