U.S. Rep. Ron Barber introduced bipartisan legislation earlier this week to force Congress to address waste and duplication in the federal government which is costing taxpayers billions of dollars annually.
“Every year, the Government Accountability Office identifies vast sums of taxpayer money that is being wasted – yet Congress does nothing more than point at the numbers and complain,” Barber said today. “This legislation will force Congress to hold hearings, scrutinize duplicative programs and take action on these findings.”
Barber is an original sponsor of the Congressional Oversight to Start Taxpayer Savings Resolution also known as the COST Savings Resolution, along with Reps. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, and Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat. The bill already has the support of 12 Republicans and six Democrats in the House.
This year, the GAO found 31 areas in which the federal government could save money – savings that would amount to billions of dollars per year. There were 17 areas of duplication, fragmentation, or overlap.
For example, as The Washington Post reported, there are three separate agencies that conduct catfish inspections and 159 organizations providing foreign-language support for the Department of Defense.
The GAO also found 14 places where the government could find even more savings by eliminating mismanagement of federal programs.
The report identified $95 billion a year in overlapping programs. It also found 76 programs that address drug abuse prevention and treatment, and $19.2 billion in improper payments within Medicaid – 7.1 percent of all Medicaid payments. This included payments made for treatments or services that were not covered by program rules, that were not medically necessary or that were billed, but never provided.
This is the third year the GAO has prepared the report at the request of Congress. The entire 283 page report, which was released this week, can be downloaded here.
But although the report is annual fodder for media reports, little is done by Congress to address the problems uncovered by the GAO, Barber noted.
Barber pointed out today that the federal debt exceeds $16 billion – an amount that could be reduced if Congress were to consolidate or eliminate some of the duplicative programs.
“This legislation will require Congress to ask the tough questions and take the tough actions that will lead to elimination of wasteful or unnecessary programs,” Barber said. “That’s why the people of Southern Arizona sent me to Washington: to be a responsible steward of their tax dollars.”