Waste and Abuse: The Refuse of the Federal Spending Binge

Witness and Testimony Documents
Comptroller of the United States
Government Accountability Office
Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Vice President and Partner
IBM Public Sector
Federal Policy Manager
Center for Health Transformation
President
Citizens Against Government Waste
Director, Federal Legislative Office
US PIRG
Vice President, Government Affairs
National Taxpayers Union
February 17, 2011,

Chairman Darrell Issa Hearing Preview Statement

Thursday’s hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, entitled “Waste and Abuse: The Refuse of the Federal Spending Binge,” comes during the very week that President Obama presented a $3.73 trillion budget request to Congress that requires a record $1.65 trillion in deficit spending, pushes the national debt to surpass GDP for the first time since World War II, and uses budget gimmicks to hide wasteful discretionary spending.

Moreover, the President’s budget adds approximately 15,000 employees to the federal payroll at a time when private sector unemployment has remained above 9 percent for the longest duration since the Great Depression.

The federal government is struggling to get control of waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement in the administrative departments and agencies. Almost two years ago, the Oversight Committee heard testimony from the Chairman of the Recovery and Transparency Board, Earl Devaney, who cited figures from the Association of Fraud Examiners that suggest that U.S. taxpayers lose as much as 7 percent of their government’s spending to fraud and waste. If that figure is true, then the federal government lost $228 billion last year alone. Yet the full extent of taxpayer losses cannot be quantified, in part because the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) is still unable to reliably track the fiscal condition of many federal agencies or accurately consolidate the federal government’s financial statements. In fact, The Sunlight Foundation recently found that USASpending.gov — the website supposed to report all federal contract and grant spending — is “almost completely useless” because the available information is only accurate for 35 percent of federal programs. This is unacceptable.

On Wednesday, February 16, 2011, GAO released the 2011 edition of its High Risk List, and the Committee will have an opportunity to hear the Comptroller of the United States, Mr. Gene Dodaro, about the status of ongoing problems that cost taxpayers billions of dollars annually. We will also hear from a wide range of scholars, analysts, and watchdog organizations who have proposed creative solutions to limit the incidence of waste, fraud and mismanagement in the federal government.

Eliminating wasteful spending is a matter of longstanding bipartisan concern, and this hearing will help focus the Oversight Committee on the sources of these problems so that we can work together to address them.