Wednesday, March 2, 2011

GAO Report Identifies Massive Federal Waste through Duplicated Programs

The government does not have money of its own to spend; 
it taxes us, promises to spend more than it has taken in, 
and then taxes us again, over and over.

Posted by: Noël Jones

Ok, now I'm really mad. In his article for the Wall Street Journal, Damian Paletta outlines the U.S. Government Accountability Office's recent report on billions of dollars in waste of our tax money being perpetrated each year in our federal government, especially through the duplication of programs at the federal level in the departments of Agriculture, Education, "Defense", Transportation, the FDA, etc. to name a few. Why should there be an idealogical battle among the citizenry over this? Can't we all--whether we consider ourselves on the right or the left--agree that this has got to stop?

"The U.S. government has 15 different agencies overseeing food-safety laws, more than 20 separate programs to    help the homeless and 80 programs for economic development.

These are a few of the findings in a massive study of overlapping and duplicative programs that cost taxpayers billions of dollars each year, according to the Government Accountability Office.
A report from the nonpartisan GAO, to be released Tuesday, compiles a list of redundant and potentially
ineffective federal programs, and it could serve as a template for lawmakers in both parties as they move to cut federal spending and consolidate programs to reduce the deficit. Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.), who pushed for the report, estimated it identifies between $100 billion and $200 billion in duplicative spending. The GAO didn't put a specific figure on the spending overlap."
On Education:

"On teacher quality, the report identified 82 programs that often have similar descriptions and goals and are spread across 10 federal agencies, including the Department of Education, the Department of Energy and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Nine of these programs are linked to science, technology, engineering and mathematics."

On Military Spending:

"The report took aim at several military programs, which could prove thorny because many lawmakers from both parties are wary to cut defense spending. It said there were 130,000 military and government medical professionals, 59 Defense Department hospitals and hundreds of clinics that could benefit from consolidating administrative, management and clinical functions.

For example, it said the government "may have developed duplicate" programs to counter improvised explosive devices, with the Marine Corps and the Army paying to develop similar "mine rollers." The Marine mine roller costs $85,000, and the Army mine roller costs $77,000 to $225,000. "Officials disagree about which system is most effective, and [the Pentagon] has not conducted comparative testing and evaluation of the two systems," the report said. The Pentagon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment."

And my favorite:

The report says policy makers should consider creating a single food-safety agency because of a number of redundancies. The Food and Drug Administration makes sure that chicken eggs are "safe, wholesome, and properly labeled" while a division of the Department of Agriculture "is responsible for the safety of eggs processed into egg products."


barrabas said...

There is a tremendous amount of corruption in the defense department spending if anyone had the balls to look into it. truth is everyone (presidents, senators, reps) is afraid to even question the "team america" force, because...well, they're prickly, and...well, "defensive."
and that's where a majority of our tax dollars go. and part of that is stuffing money into corrupt afghan pockets, or bribing afghan citizens to just wake up from their dusty naps and talk to us about the manufactured bad guys we're hunting down and smoking out. karzai's brother left the country with 50 million US bones flying out of his pockets...that's our money, and that's part of the defense spending budget...
now...who's mad about that and who wants to meet me at the pentagon to petition for a redress of grievances? ...not at the capital, 'cause they're wimps and will just fan themselves and rolls their the pentagon! allons-y!!!

Alanna said...

@ barrabas--- and when the ones with the cojones look at the DOD spending, maybe someone (GAO?) can finally figure out what happened to that $8.8 billion that went 'missing' from Iraq's coffers after 'Shock and Awe'. Pure thievery by American Big Business private contractors. And no one did a thing about it. And oddly, rotten Rummy got richer for all his DOD conference recusals that might've presented a monetary conflict of interest for him during this era. What?! The Sec of Defense is recused from a conference re contracts for private businesses who are going into Irag?! Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Harold 'The Plunderer' Prince gets away with murder and continues to thrive in the UAE. This is the kind of rot that should REALLY make people's blood BOIL.

noel jones said...

I just want to state the obvious which is that each one of these duplicate departments has A LOT of people working in them--and each of those people is getting a salary and a pension paid for by US, and then there are all the no-bid contracts going out to thousands of contractors, then there are all the consulting fees...

and when it comes to the Dept of Ed--82 programs to improve teacher quality? Really? So we're sending our taxes to the federal government so that they can pay all the people in 82 redundant departments a salary and PENSION to "improve teacher quality" that results in an educational state as abysmal as we currently have in America? and then we have to have our states beg for our tax money back for us to fund our schools?

can someone please tell me why it was so crazy of Jake Towne when he was running for congress to suggest that we abolish the Dept of Ed and keep our tax money at least at the state level, if not the local level? whenever someone mentions getting rid of the Dept of Ed--a department that has only been around for the last 30 years and under which education has steadily gotten WORSE in our country--people react as if you've just said "i hate children" or "i don't think education is important" and marginalize the suggestion as if it's crazy.

why not stop paying hundreds of people salaries and pensions in 82 duplicate departments that AREN'T IMPROVING EDUCATION, keep some of the money at the state level and let tax payers keep the rest--especially in these difficult times?

and when it comes to the military, why are we getting ready to go to war with Libya when we already have two wars going in Iraq and Afghanistan? why are we spending billions every year maintaining bases in 173 countries? why are we sending our young men and women to get killed and injured and wasting billions in wars overseas in the name of fighting terrorism, when we could just have our troops at home protecting our ports, airports and borders instead, leaving our youth alive and billions of dollars back in the average citizen taxpayer's pocket?

KBR and Halliburton are making billions hand over fist and it is WE who are paying them out of our own pockets!

my brother served two tours in Iraq and watched contractors build a brand new mess hall across from an already existing fairly new mess hall where he was stationed--all on our tax dollar--and this was as they were packing up troops for the WITHDRAWAL--this is how blatant the no-bid contract awards have become in our military, and any Republican or Tea Party member who talks about reducing waste without talking about cutting military waste is not being honest with themselves. there is nothing patriotic about supporting military waste in the billions, and it comes out of our pockets just like any other wasteful spending.

Clem said...

noel jones said...

"can someone please tell me why it was so crazy of Jake Towne when he was running for congress to suggest that we abolish the Dept of Ed and keep our tax money at least at the state level, if not the local level?"

Because we don't actually pay enough in combined taxes to pay for our schools at the local or state level. The Federal subsidies to school districts cannot be identified as taxes collected for education and then redistributed for that purpose. The government has more going out than coming in, so the Feds borrower money and then dole it out to schools and other interests. If we paid for our education system at the local/ state level (actually paid for it as we go) we would quickly find that we simply could not afford 100K gym teachers and administrators with defined benefit pensions and lifetime family healthcare, 7 million dollar swimming pools, astroturf and everything else. There is a segment of the population that realizes this and wants to deal with it, but the masses are largely ignorant and lazy and cannot or will not understand. They are both rich and poor. They just want the trains to run on time and to not be bothered while they gett Muffy and Biff to soccer practice, or to sit back and wait for the wealth redistributors to pass out their morsels extracted from the productive sector.

Jake has the right idea, but he's shouting at the deaf.

tunsie said...

There was someone I USE TO KNOW,that questioned no bid contracts,LOCALLY.she was shunned and ridiculed.she is not strong emotionally,and they all ganged up on her,until she retreated.....some people dont want honest people looking over thier shoulder.....I love noel////I want noel to be the president of the united states of A,baby......

noel jones said...

Tunsie--I'm sorry to hear that--you should encourage your friend to check the blog and come out to the meetings because she would have company now. Being a lone target wears anyone down over time--strength in numbers! It's great when people speak up at the meetings, but it's also great when people just come out to be counted as concerned citizens who are keeping an eye on things and care what their elected officials are doing with our money.

david said...

Noel said- "can someone please tell me why it was so crazy of Jake Towne when he was running for congress to suggest that we abolish the Dept of Ed and keep our tax money at least at the state level, if not the local level?"

Clem makes a point, but a further point would be that by combining with the other states we give the average American child a chance at a standardized education. Or at least that is the idea. Were we to go on a state by state or city by city level, we would be stuck trying to find teachers for minimum wage who'd teach out of the gods only know where. With no common standard. I make no arguments that we do not have and need to correct the redundancies at the federal , state and NFP levels.
But that in the end is the "WHY?" , because a child from Easton should as a Citizen of America have the right to the same level of basic education as a child from Princeton NJ or any town in any state. That this does not perhaps hold true is another issue. That we have a great deal of largess redundancy and confusion at most levels above local govt. is clear. Whether or not we can find enough commonality as individuals to find and maintain enough of a common culture to make any significant change above the local level seems clearly to be an unlikely maybe , barring an act of the gods, I no longer truly believe we can.
Let's face it folks when we are talking about seeking freedom from the common standard, freedom from the nation we are discussing a form of secession. And this sort of rhetoric has become common as we begin to see ourselves as just about anything but countrymen.

noel jones said...

someone explained to me recently the difference between standardization and accreditation. apparently accreditation was the main method used to ensure that schools all gave a good level of education around the country before we started to standardization through the federal Dept. of Ed. in the 70s. the way accreditation worked, as i understand it, was that when a new school wanted to start up they would get letters of accreditation from other already-established and respected schools--sort of like letters of recommendation. our schools were way better then than they are now.

David--i like your characterization of resisting national standardization as secession--not that i agree with it, but i think it's a really interesting way to look at it. one difference is that we didn't start out as a standardized nation, but rather independent states that were "united" in that they would pull together to defend the states from an attack on American soil. so you can look at it as "seccession" from standardization, or you can look at it as independent people and states who don't want to JOIN standardization--many look at the Dept. of Ed as a failed 30-year experiment and want to go back to the days when kids could read and write and do math well in this country.

i would like to know more about the development of the Dept. of Ed, as we seemed to be doing fine before that and led the world in many ways in terms of education, where we are lagging at 23rd in math now. I taught 9th & 10th grade briefly in New York and had students who could barely read when they came to my poetry class. if this is where standardization has gotten us, why not go back to accreditation, and let people keep their tax money?

you've got to admit that paying for the salaries and pensions of hundreds of people in 82 duplicate departments--as well as for the funding of No Child Left Behind and other such programs that have failed miserably is a clear waste of our money as it has not garnered results, and is completely letting our youth down.

David Caines said...

To be fair, you make some very valid points.
That I haven't thought much about.
Accreditation is still the standard in the marital which is the field in which I teach, but it is based in the ability to meet or exceed a shared standard. If you cannot do so, then you do not become accredited.Meeting or exceeding the standard is the rule by which that letter of recommendation either gets given or does not.
I think it would be interesting to see that standard enforced and a system of accreditation enforced as well. Teachers and schools that fail that test being either closed or non-accredited and as such denied federal , state or even local tax money.
You've given me somthing to think about here though,

David Caines said...

The question here I think is the deviation of varied Christian Churches (leadership, ruler ship) for the actual words and practices of the Christ. Christianity to be fair is not the only faith to suffer from this fault. My own faith suffers certain bastardizations as the result mostly of misunderstandings, poor leadership and a almost utter lack of informed practitioner teachers. Certain warrior / Aryan aspects of paganism such as Wotanists support the wars. While most who revere the Aesir and Vanir do not, for the warrior aspects of the Nordic faiths are in truth only a tiny part of an eons old system of belief.
My own faith is more of a gnosis, or personal experience of the divine, and as such little in the way of dogma exists in truth excepting certain guiding principles, sometimes referred to as reede's. They differ little from the practices and words of the Christ in his life.
There is as stated a mass of common threads among the world's thousands of gods / pantheons / religions.
It would make for an interesting world if we actually tried to live by them now wouldn't it?
BTW- I just read the drop down- If Ken wants to go for a national day of prayer have him set the date and I'll do my bit to get my faith on board.
Sadly these talks that by nessecity need to be long don't fit well here on blogger.

noel jones said...

David--I think you meant to post this comment to the post with Ken Sturzenaker's essay on Christian Libertarianism...