An amendment offered today by U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., would help weed out duplication, overlap, and inefficiencies in federal early learning and child care programs. The Senate approved the amendment, 98-0, as part of a bill that reauthorizes Child Care and Development Block Grant funding.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has identified 45 early learning and child care programs funded by the federal government. While the bulk of the programs are administered by the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services (HHS), GAO noted these multiple programs are administered by multiple agencies with similar goals with potential duplication and service gaps.
"Every dollar the federal government spends should always have the taxpayers in mind, and that includes what we spend on early childhood education programs," said Enzi. "My amendment is a continuation of what I was able to do as Chairman and as Ranking Member of the HELP Committee. This isn't a study. It will require HHS and the Department of Education to come up with a plan for eliminating duplication and overlap, as well as a plan for ways to consolidate these programs and report back to Congress. While targeting all the inefficiencies in the federal government is a big task, this is one step we can take today that will better serve the children eligible for these programs while being fiscally responsible and promoting transparency in federal spending."
In a recent report, GAO noted that as of December 2013, Education and HHS had taken initial steps toward greater coordination, but had not yet included all the federal agencies that administer early learning and child care programs in their established inter-departmental workgroup. Enzi's amendment takes a further step in identifying fragmentation, overlap, duplication, and inefficiencies in the federal government's delivery of numerous early learning and child care programs beyond the GAO report.
"It's been unusual recently for the minority to get the first amendment on a major bill. I appreciate the recognition that eliminating duplication and increasing consolidation has been a passion of mine. I also appreciate the unanimous vote for my amendment," Enzi said.
The Senate may vote on final passage of the child care block grant bill this week.