Our government is cluttered with unnecessary programs. Our government is cluttered with unnecessary programs. Our government is cluttered with unnecessary programs. Our government is cluttered with unnecessary programs.
Those identical sentences aren't typos, but a demonstration of how Congress works today, often creating new federal programs that duplicate existing ones, partially because most federal agencies are unable to account for, or even list, every program under their purview.
To remedy this, Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) and Rep. James Lankford (R-OK), have introduced bipartisan legislation requiring federal agencies to produce a list of their programs and submit it to the Office of Management and Budget, which will determine how many duplicative and overlapping government programs exist and recommend ways to eliminate identical programs.
"When you're in a hole, the first rule is to stop digging," said Cooper. "We shouldn't create programs when they already exist."
"I am proud to continue our bipartisan effort with the Taxpayers' Right to Know Act to shed sunlight on how, when, where and on what the federal government spends hard-working Americans' tax dollars," said Lankford. "As taxpayers, we deserve accountability and efficiency in federal spending, and with the help of the GAO's report on duplication each year, this bill brings us a step closer to addressing the problem of waste, fraud and abuse within the federal government."
The Taxpayers' Right to Know Act would require every federal agency to publish an annual report card for all of its programs. Each government program would be identified and would outline:
-Total administrative costs of the program;
-Total expenditures for services;
-Total number of beneficiaries who receive assistance from the program; and
-An estimate of the number of staff who administer the program, including contractor staff.
The report would also include:
-A listing of other programs within the agency with duplicative or overlapping missions and services;
-The latest performance reviews for the program, including the metrics used to review the program;
The latest improper payment rate for the program, including fraudulent payments; and
-The total amount of unspent and unobligated program funds held by the agency and grant recipients.
This information would be updated annually and posted online, along with recommendations to consolidate duplicative and overlapping programs; to eliminate waste and inefficiency; and to terminate lower priority, outdated and unnecessary programs.
Cooper and Lankford introduced their bill on the same day that the Government Accountability Office released its 2013 report on government duplication, waste and mismanagement. That report found 31 areas -- ranging from federal drug treatment programs to military contracting practices -- where agencies may be able to achieve greater efficiency or effectiveness.