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.”

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Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Wed, Jan 28, 2009 Paul

As others have already said, this report is completely political. Bush picked the department secretaries, and some of the deputies - a couple dozen or so people. Yet when the several hundred thousand people under them fail to implement every nit-picking recommendation from IG's, it MUST be Bush's fault. If Congress really wanted to fight fraud, they would limit themselves to adding things to bills that ACTUALLY HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE ORIGINAL BILL!! Let every spending measure or regulatory change stand up or not on its own merits.

Tue, Jan 13, 2009

The IGs are just political, job-protecting clowns at this point. No one in Congress or anywhere in government should believe these people know anything about how to improve business processes. Since the IGs basically don't investigate fraud and abuse any more, let's just drop this whole idea that they know anything. The IGs are one of the biggest problems in government. No question - anyone close enough to work with them in any agency will agree.

Fri, Jan 9, 2009

I wonder if their accounting considers the billions necessary to implement the recommendations? IG's visit a small percentage of components in an agency and then make broad, sweeping statements that the entire agency is broken. I wonder how much could be saved if we eliminated the IG program?

Fri, Jan 9, 2009 oracle2world

There were 13,847 recommendations not implemented for a missed cost savings of $25.9 billion. There were a total of 98,317 recommendations. The 84,470 recommendations that were implemented therefore saved approx. $158 billion. (I think the IG had this number somewhere and was touting it as "good".) This number is approximate because we are missing some data. It is surprising we are missing data because the missed recommendations are reported to a precision of 1 in 10,000 but the total money at stake was never reported. Must have been an oversight of the oversight committee. Maybe the IG can help them out with this one. Publishing inaccurate misleading information on the taxpayers dime would not exactly seem to be in the public's best interest. Oh, that B-2 bomber that crashed in Guam in Feb. of last year? $1.2 billion.

Thu, Jan 8, 2009

No news here. Just another DEM taking a parting shot at the outgoing GOP President. If it had been a DEM Pres and a GOP controlled panel the same charge would have been made. There is no sane reason to believe that every single recommendation made by the IG would have been possible, would have worked, and would have saved the money claimed. Its just too damned bad that our so-called political leadership is more interested in mudslinging than they are in actually demonstrating any real leadership.

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