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Sequester This!

An editorial, posted this afternoon at Investor's Business Daily (IBD), asks how many federal agencies does it take to inspect a catfish. According to IBD, it "apparently" takes three. And IBD emphasizes they aren't joking.

The IBD editorial says it's just "one of many outrageous but all-too-true examples of billions of dollars in waste uncovered by a new government audit."

Here's how IBD introduces the third annual report on government waste and duplication from the U.S. General Accounting Office:

"The Government Accountability Office's latest annual report on government waste and duplication found 31 areas in the government that overlap, duplicate efforts or are egregiously inefficient. That's on top of the 131 found in its previous two annual reports.

"In many cases, the government has no idea whether any of these programs actually work.

"Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who pushed for this report, figures the latest examples alone add up to $95 billion — more than the spending cuts under this year's "sequester." There are, for example, 23 agencies pushing more than 670 renewable energy programs, a quarter of which President Obama added. In wind energy alone, nine agencies threw $4 billion at 82 wind energy projects in 2011.

"Worse, the GAO found that many of these programs targeted the same wind projects, and worse still, in at least a few cases the money went to projects that likely would have been built anyway."

There are actually three GAO items. First, the 283-page report, which is the third annual report on government waste and duplication; then the testimony of the Comptroller General before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the House of Representatives; and finally a GAO podcast on reducing government duplication and saving tax dollars. Here's how GAO describes what they found:

"This 2013 annual report identifies 31 areas where agencies may be able to achieve greater efficiency or effectiveness. Within these 31 areas, we include 17 areas of fragmentation, overlap, or duplication where multiple programs and activities may be creating inefficiencies. Although it may be appropriate for multiple agencies or entities to be involved in the same programmatic or policy area due to the nature or magnitude of the federal effort. The report also includes 14 areas where opportunities exist to achieve cost savings or enhance revenue collections.

"To address the issues indentified in these areas, we suggest 81 actions that the executive branch or Congress could take to reduce or eliminate fragmentation, overlap, or duplication or to achieve other financial benefits. Given that the areas identified extend across the government and that we found a range of conditions among these areas, we suggest a similarly wide range of actions for the executive branch and Congress to consider. For example, the actions we suggest in the report include, among many others, canceling a demonstration program, strengthening oversight of certain payments and investments, and limiting or reducing subsidies for a particular program."

The IBD editorial urges readers to remember all of the fragmented, overlapping, and duplicate federal programs "the next time you hear (President) Obama whine about the pain and agony caused by the sequester."

Finally, kudos to Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) for his hard work in pushing for the report.

Arlington taxpayers concerned how their federal legislators are acting with regards to this third annual report should write their members of Congress. Contact information:

  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -  write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Jim Moran (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376

And tell them ACTA sent you!

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