Senator Tom Coburn calls duplication and waste “unconscionable, and immoral”

Where the Focus on Spending Cuts Should Be

Senator Tom Coburn calls duplication and waste unconscionable, and immoral

The Government Accountability Office, GAO, released its 3rd annual report on government duplications today.  While congress and the President have focused on cutting funds in areas such as social security, veteran’s benefits, and Medicare, the GAO has the answers that could take place immediately, and save billions.

The report claims that removing the “overlap” would save 95 billion dollars.  The two years previous reports identified 200 billion dollars of government waste.  The sequestration could be covered with ease.  But of the 300 identified in the previous two years, only 65 have been addressed.

On the same day this report was issued, President Obama was identifying some of the same areas of waste identified by the GAO.

Some of the more egregious areas of duplication and waste are:

There are 679 renewable energy initiatives at 23 federal agencies and their 130 sub-agencies.  This cost taxpayers 15 billion dollars for the fiscal year of 2010.

There are 76 drug prevention and treatment programs spread across 15 different agencies.  Cost to the taxpayers, 4.5 billion dollars for 2012.

Three separate federal agencies are involved in catfish inspection.

The military cannot agree on one type of camouflage.  There are 7 variations.

There are 159 contracting organizations in 10 different Defense Department components which provide defense foreign language support.  The GAO estimates 50 to 200 million dollars in savings by eliminating the duplication.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors offers 69 different language services.  GAO found 23 instances of overlap.  They involved 43 of the services, involving 149 million dollars, or about 20% of the BBG’s annual appropriations for 2011.

21 programs, including 8 tax expenditures, are in place to help students save, pay for, and repay the cost of higher education, annually costing 45 billion, 104 billion for financial loans, and 25 billion in lost revenue from tax spending.

There are six different programs operated by two different agencies to train veterans.  1.2 billion dollars was spent by the agencies in 2011, serving 880,000 participants.  The GAO discovered, “Despite these efforts, the unemployment rate for veterans who have recently separated from the military is higher than that for other veterans and nonveterans.”

Six separate offices at the Department of Homeland Security are involved in research and development. In one example, “two DHS components awarded five separate contracts that each addressed detection of the same chemical. Moreover, DHS did not have the policies and mechanisms necessary to coordinate or track research and development activities across the department.”

Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn called these actions “unconscionable, and immoral”.

“Every dollar the government takes from a single mom or low-income family to fund an overlapping catfish inspection program is a dollar taxpayers have to earn back by working longer hours,” he said. “And every dollar we take out of the economy to fund the government’s 679th renewable energy initiative is a dollar that isn’t available for businesses to renew our economy.”

Not listed by the GAO are the hundreds of millions in tax subsidies given to corporate farms and the oil companies, both of which are making record profits.

James Turnage

Columnist-The Guardian Express