Senators want changes on overlapping programs
Congress would have to act to make many of the changes
- By Matthew Weigelt
- May 25, 2011
Officials both in agencies and at the Office of Management and Budget
can expect a letter soon from senators asking for their responses to an oversight report that exposes the number of ongoing federal
programs that do the same thing.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and
Governmental Affairs Committee, said he wants to know what officials are
doing to eliminate these duplicative programs. The senators talked
about the letter May 25 during a hearing. Lieberman's staff will begin
drafting the letter soon. (Watch the hearing and read the testimony)
The Government Accountability Office on March 1 identified 34 areas
of potential duplication and fragmentation in federal programs and 47
other areas where the government may save money or even increase
revenues by making changes. For example, the Defense Department has
roughly 2,300 programs to modernize the various business systems
throughout the department.
GAO identifies billions in potential savings from duplicative federal programs
Also, the Homeland Security Department and the Transportation
Security Administration could consolidate the three mechanisms they have
for sharing security-related information with public transit
GAO also pointed out data center consolidation, which Federal CIO
Vivek Kundra, along with General Services Administration officials, has
been working to promote through cloud computing.
However, OMB officials at a hearing on May 25 could not identify changes
to eliminate or merge programs as a result of GAO’s work. Also, Eugene
Dodaro, the comptroller general, said there have been no changes,
although DOD and the Veterans Affairs Department have agreed to work on
“It's terribly frustrating, and you have to wonder what needs to be
done,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). "Maybe we have to start
line-by-line on authorization bills, eliminating them ourselves, since
clearly the administration is not acting."
Kundra talked about general changes in approaches to combine data
centers to maximize space available in a center, and also how agencies
are making strides to purchase services and products, such as office
supplies, through blanket purchase agreements.
These two examples and any other of the administration’s efforts
would be good starting points for discussions on further rooting out the
waste, Dodaro said. Congress has to push officials to get the empirical
evidence on those wasteful programs and decide to how cover those
programs’ services under a broader program.
Congress would have to act to make many of the changes, he said.
GAO will offer a score card to keep up on the programs and the action agencies have taken, Dodaro said.
Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.