Obama to Cabinet: Show Me Your Cost Cuts

By MichaelJames

Apr 18, 2009 10:04am

From Sunlen Miller:

In a weekend dominated by foreign relations, President Obama used his Saturday address to refocus on domestic issues, calling for members of his administration to present specific proposals for cutting department and agency budgets.

The president –- who will return from a five-day trip to Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago later this weekend –- will convene his first full Cabinet meeting on Monday at the White House to focus on cost-cutting measures.

“I will ask all of my department and agency heads for specific proposals for cutting their budgets,” the president said in his weekly address.

Obama also praised his former opponent in the presidential race, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., for teaming up to lead cost-cutting efforts in Congress.

“In the coming weeks, I will be announcing the elimination of dozens of government programs shown to be wasteful or ineffective,” the president said, promising to go line-by-line to root out what costs are unnecessary. “In this effort, there will be no sacred cows, and no pet projects.  All across America, families are making hard choices, and it’s time their government did the same.”

“We simply cannot afford to perpetuate a system in Washington where politicians and bureaucrats make decisions behind closed doors, with little accountability for the consequences; where billions are squandered on programs that have outlived their usefulness, or exist solely because of the power of a lobbyist or interest group; and where outdated technology and information systems undermine efficiency, threaten our security, and fail to serve an engaged citizenry,” Obama said, adding that the economy cannot be rebuilt without taxpayers’ confidence that the government is spending their money wisely.

Using the weekly address again as a platform to announce key administration posts, Obama announced CEO management consultant and entrepreneur Jeffrey Zients as the chief performance officer, and Virginia’s Secretary of Technology Aneesh Chopra as the chief technology officer to revamp government operations to ensure spending is done properly.

Zients was chosen after Nancy Killefer withdrew her candidacy for the officer role in early February  following the revelation that she had a $946.69 lien on her property in 2005 for failure to pay taxes.

The president said the two appointees would use technology to improve security, ensure transparency and lower costs to help efficiency in government.

“The goal is to give all Americans a voice in their government and ensure that they know exactly how we’re spending their money –- and can hold us accountable for the results.”

- Sunlen Miller

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