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Massive Federal Government = Massive Waste?

One of our friends at the National Taxpayers Union, Brandon Arnold, reminds us at NTU's blog, Government Bytes yesterday, of the General Accountability Office's (GAO) latest annual report on duplication and waste in the federal government.

According to Arnold, NTU's executive VP:

"The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is once again focusing its attention on waste in the federal government. In a hearing earlier this week, the Committee welcomed Gene Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States. He discussed the findings of the annual report on duplication and overlap in the federal government issued by his agency, the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

"As taxpayers know all too well, the government is rife with waste. Since it began releasing its report in 2011, the GAO has identified approximately 440 specific steps that Congress and the executive branch could take to address overlap and duplication. The good news is that 348 of these actions have been addressed fully or in part, with a total projected savings of $100 billion through 2023. The bad news is that a tremendous amount of work remains to be done. In addition to the unaddressed actions from previous reports, the 2015 iteration found 66 new actions that should be taken.

"Needless to say, as long as we have a massive federal government, a great deal of waste will exist. The Oversight and Government Reform Committee should be commended for repeatedly shining a spotlight on this problem. It held a hearing on the subject last year, at which I was fortunate enough to serve as a witness."

Here are the key links to the important information items referenced by Arnold:

  • GAO's 2015 Annual Report on federal government fragmentation, overlap and duplication (GAO-15-404SP) -- summary and complete 240-page report.
  • House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform website where you can view the witness list, their testimony, and links to parts 1 and 2 of the committee hearing. A link to Arnold's testimony is available here.

Here's a short summary of what GAO found:

"In its 2015 report, GAO presents 66 actions that the executive branch or Congress could take to improve efficiency and effectiveness across 24 areas that span a broad range of government missions and functions.

  • GAO suggests 20 actions to address evidence of fragmentation, overlap, or duplication in 12 new areas across the government missions of defense, health, income security, information technology, and international affairs.
  • GAO also presents 46 opportunities for executive branch agencies or Congress to take actions to reduce the cost of government operations or enhance revenue collections for the Treasury across 12 areas of government."

Congratulations to NTU, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), and the Cato Institute for having representatives testify on behalf of American taxpayers, and congratulations to the House Committee on Oversight, and its chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) for holding the hearing.

A small quibble on one point made by Brandon Arnold. In his testimony, he writes, "Needless to say, as long as we have a massive federal government, a great deal of waste will exist." As we growled on March 8, 2015, the GAO already identified $125 billion of federal government waste in 2014. Now all this fragmentation, overlap and duplication. Until mankind reaches perfection, there will always be some waste and duplication. But, how much more must be plundered from the paychecks of American taxpayers? And what are our representatives in Congress doing to whittle down waste and duplication to no more than what occurs in the private sector? Isn't oversight part of their responsibility?

Consequently, we call on Growls readers to contact their members of Congress. Only when they see a sufficient number of their pitchfork-carrying constituents will they act to reduce waste and duplication in the federal government. Contact information is available at Thomas (use left-hand column). Taxpayers living in Virginia's Arlington County, should contact:

  • 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 Don Beyer (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376.

Ask for a written response. And, tell them ACTA sent you.

Kudos to the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), Citizens Against Government Waste, and the Cato Institute, and especially their project on Downsizing the Federal Government for their continued efforts to communicate the massive size of the federal government to the American people.

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