New GAO Report Has One Senator Fuming: “It is All Congress’ Fault”

By Gregory

Mar 1, 2011 6:33pm

ABC News' Jonathan Karl reports: With Congress currently embroiled in a contentious spending fight, the Government Accountability Office has found that a staggering level of duplication is plaguing the bloated federal budget, chewing up billions of dollars in funding every year, and making at least one Senator furious.

“Makes us look like jackasses,” Senator Tom Coburn, R-Ok, told ABC News today. “What would you think? You are paying men and women to come to Congress to be good stewards of the money and then you get a report out like this that says you are absolutely not good stewards of the money.”

You can watch exerpts of the interview with Senator Coburn HERE.

In a new report obtained by ABC News, the GAO determined that “reducing or eliminating duplication, overlap, or fragmentation could potentially save billions of taxpayer dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services.”

Even when it comes to chickens and eggs there are a tangle of redundant programs. It's almost embarrassing. Take the overlap between The Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture: The FDA is responsible for ensuring eggs are "safe, wholesome and properly labeled."  The Department of Agriculture, too, is responsible for "eggs processed into egg products"

The Department of Agriculture is also responsible for the "health of young chicks" while the FDA oversees the safety of "the food they eat."  Got that?  All told 15 separate agencies have responsibility for food safety.

In agency after agency, the report finds overlapping programs wasting billions of dollars and programs that are almost never assessed to see if they are working.

“We are mismanaged, misled and incompetent and the American public needs to hold us accountable,” Coburn said.

Need some more examples?  The report found 82 different programs with similar descriptions in 10 different agencies for roads and trains.  And job training? Forty different programs with 44 of them overlapping.

Senator Coburn, who asked for the report, says it is an indictment of Congress, which ultimately creates all these programs.

“It is all congress’ fault,” Coburn said. “This is an indictment [on] both Republicans and Democrats and on administrations run by both Republicans and Democrats not leading.”

Coburn says the report it all adds up to hundreds of billions in spending on overlapping programs and over a trillion dollars in waste over the course of a decade.

And then there's this:  There are 56 programs in 20 federal agencies designed to teach Americans financial literacy.  There's certainly a need for that. Especially in the place that gave us a $14 trillion debt.

 -Matthew Jaffe and Gregory Simmons contributed to this report.

 

 

 


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