Every year, waste, fraud and abuse in the Federal government balloons the deficit. According to Senator Tom Coburn, a witness at the House Oversight and Government Reform hearing last week, this duplication costs taxpayers $100 billion every year. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report identifying 51 new areas (on top of the 81 areas identified in 2011) where the government can trim the fat and get rid of the waste. These savings are real deficit reductions, without tax increases or cuts to vital services.
I have highlighted a few notes below from the GAO report I thought you would find interesting.
* Military and Veterans Health Care:The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs needs to improve across care coordination and case management programs to reduce duplication and better assist service members, veterans, and their families. These problems not only cost taxpayers, they reduce the quality of care given to our service members and veterans.
* Medicare and Medicaid Fraud Detection Systems: Medicare and Medicaid are responsible for over half of all Federal improper payments ($64.8 billion in FY 2011). The GAO recommends, and I agree that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) need to utilize available technology to help them recover billions of dollars in improper payments. If these funds and improper payments are recovered, CMS expects to see an additional $21 billion.
* Government Fees for Service Charges: The GAO identified several fees charged by government agencies which were either not high enough to offset the cost of the service (such as providing passenger security through TSA) or were too high (as with GSA's charging agencies for procuring goods and services). In many instances, the agencies don't even know how much it costs to provide the service, and therefore, have no idea what would be appropriate to charge.
* Tax Collection and Enforcement: The IRS fails to collect an estimated $385 billion in federal taxes every year because the amount owed often greatly differs from the amount reported to the IRS. Failure to address enforcement and taxpayer services could result in a situation, similar to Greece, where taxpayers do not feel that the tax system is fair, further undermining voluntary compliance and exacerbating the tax gap.
This misuse of hardworking taxpayer money by the government is simply unacceptable. Savings realized from these wasteful programs could almost cut our national deficit in half. Taxpayers deserve an efficient government that takes great pride in spending what they entrust to their government wisely and efficiently.