Panel: IG recommendations could have saved $26 billion

Agencies could save almost $26 billion if they implemented the more than 13,000 recommendations made by inspectors general since 2001 that the Bush administration did not follow, according to a report released today by the Democratic staff members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

“Under the Bush administration, thousands of proposals to make government more efficient languished. The result has been billions of dollars in waste, fraud and abuse,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the committee's outgoing chairman. Waxman became chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the new Congress that opened today.

Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), who has become chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the IGs did the hard work of identifying waste and fraud.

“But agencies have not been fixing the problems. Congress and the Obama administration should keep the spotlight on wasteful programs until they are running efficiently,” said Towns.

The agencies the committee's staff members said could save the most by implementing the recommendations are the Social Security Administration at $8.6 billion, the Health and Human Services Department at $7.7 billion, the Defense Department at $1.5 billion, the Transportation Department at $1.5 billion and the Housing and Urban Development Department at $997 million.

The committee asked the government's IGs to identify all recommendations made between Jan. 1, 2001 and Dec. 31, 2008 that had not been implemented by federal agencies. The information showed that the Bush administration failed to implement 13,847 recommendations, which could have saved taxpayers $25.9 billion, the report said. The IGs made 98,317 recommendations in total over the time period, and recommendations made in 2007 or earlier would account for three-fourths, or $20.3 billion, in savings, the report said.

Defense, HUD and the Labor Department each have more than a thousand open recommendations and half of those were made in 2007 or earlier, the report noted.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the ranking member of the committee, however, called the report a “parting partisan shot” on Waxman’s last day and was issued without input or consultation of the committee’s Republican members.
 
“This partisan report completely ignores IG recommendations made during the Clinton administration,” Issa said, adding that he looked forward to working with Towns “on a bipartisan basis to examine in more detail these important IG recommendations that have not yet been implemented.”

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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