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Op-ed: Bipartisan agreement on government waste?

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

Report shows lack of fiscal accountability, overlap in many government agencies

By Orrin Hatch and Mark Udall

During the last election, Americans spoke loud and clear. Regardless of the political party they belong to, they want Congress focused on the economy, and they want us to work together to get our nation’s fiscal house in order.

Specifically, they want Congress and the President to focus on reining in federal spending. We face a $14 trillion debt, and every day we wait to take responsible steps to control spending, we leave our fiscal situation less sustainable for the future. The markets are demanding immediate action. Just last week, Standard & Poor’s placed the United States’ AAA bond rating on a negative outlook, citing a greater than one in three chance of a downgrade within the next two years.

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colorado)

While there are plenty of areas where we disagree when it comes to the federal budget, we agree that it’s time for immediate reductions in government spending. We need to take action now, and a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) offers a constructive suggestion for where to start. This eye-opening study identifies multiple overlapping federal government programs that, if consolidated or cut, could dramatically reduce administrative and overhead costs, among other savings. The duplicative programs span a range of federal government agencies from domestic food assistance and education to homeland security and defense.  For example:

∙         Over 20 federal programs address homelessness, spanning seven federal agencies, including the departments of education, health and human services, labor and veterans affairs.
∙         At least 44 programs run by the departments of education, health and human services, and labor provide employment and training services.
∙         There are 80 economic development programs at four agencies, 52 of which have authority to fund “entrepreneurial efforts.”
∙         More than two dozen individuals appointed by the president are responsible for biodefense.
∙         And 15 agencies are involved in food safety – a costly overlap that GAO says has caused inconsistent oversight, ineffective coordination and an inefficient use of resources. Continue reading

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