Congress

Lankford cites almost a half-trillion in government waste

Shutterstock image (by Tatiana Popova): businessman burning money with a lighter. 

A range of IT boondoggles, duplication and programs without sufficient oversight, as well as structural impediments to hiring and procurement, feature in a new congressional report that highlights nearly half a trillion worth of government inefficiencies.

The third annual government waste playbook from Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), titled "Federal Fumbles: 100 ways the government dropped the ball," highlights 100 programs, practices and inefficiencies that total, by his estimate, $473.6 billion.

At a press conference announcing the report's release, Lankford noted the volume of repeat appearances in the report. The report is largely based on persistent issues already identified by oversight bodies, including agency inspectors general and the Government Accountability Office.

"There are certain things we wanted to be able to put into perspective with this," he said. "This is the to-do list for next year."

The widespread reliance on legacy and "sometimes non-secure" technology is a "recurring theme" in the wasteful government spending, the report states.

Lankford pointed to the Department of Homeland Security's protracted adoption of a biometric entry-exit system, a recommendation from the 9/11 commission, as well as the extended hiring process (even by federal government standards) to hire border patrol officials and immigration judges. Tech at the Office of Management and Budget, the IRS and the Department of Veterans Affairs also drew special mention.

The report also slams the federal government's slowness in removing Kaspersky software from federal systems.

"With the ongoing threat from Russian hackers, the American government should not use any software from Russian companies," the report states. "The federal government knew or should have known of the potential threat from Kaspersky software for at least three years before the order for its removal from government computers."

Lankford also looked in-house, to the Senate's slowness to confirm political appointees and Congress' "constant struggle" with the budget and appropriations processes.

One remedy Lankford touted to help federal agencies improve customer service and do "what every business in America does — have an online survey for how did we treat you in customer service" -- was the Federal Agency Customer Experience Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). The bill, which would eliminate interagency review process that's currently required to approve the solicitation of public feedback, has passed the Senate and awaits a House vote.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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