U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS), continues to reform government spending through strong oversight in her fiscal year 2012 CJS Appropriations bill, which was passed by the Senate.
"Under my watch, overhead and overruns will not be overlooked and taxpayers' dollars will not be squandered," Chairwoman Mikulski said. "I'm not going to tolerate spending excesses. The American taxpayers will not finance lavish spending like $1.4 million for a conference and $4 for Swedish meatballs."
The CJS bill insists on continuing to strengthen oversight by increasing funds for agency watchdogs, ending lavish banquets and requiring cuts in overhead.
The CJS Appropriations Subcommittee puts funds in the federal checkbook for more than 40 federal agencies and groups. These include science and innovation agencies like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA); and agencies that protect our nation and our communities, like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Senator Mikulski instituted sweeping reforms in 2007 in response to a DOJ Office of Inspector General (OIG) report that showed the department spent nearly $7 million on elaborate conferences over a two-year period. At one event in July 2006, the department spent $4 per meatball on a dinner that cost more than $60,000. After reading the report, Senator Mikulski added language to the CJS appropriations bill that required OIG audits of all conferences exceeding $20,000, prohibited using grant or contract money to pay for unrelated banquets and conferences, and required grant and contract recipients to certify they had no conflicts of interest.
In addition to maintaining those reforms, this year's CJS bill:
- Slashes by 25 percent agencies' reception and representation funds.
- Discourages excessive conference spending Requires all agencies to cut overhead by at least 10 percent -- by reducing non-essential travel, supply, rent and utility costs. Increases funding to Inspectors General (IGs), the taxpayers' watchdogs at the agencies.
- Requires IGs to conduct random audits of grant funding to find and stop waste and fraud.
- Creates an early warning system on cost overruns, requiring agencies to notify the committee when project costs grow by more than 10 percent.
In the next step of the appropriations process, the House and Senate will work out the differences between their versions of the bill, which will then be approved a final time by both legislative bodies before being signed into law. For more information on the CJS spending bill, go to: http://mikulski.senate.gov/media/press_releases.cfm