Thursday, March 3, 2011
Years ago, the brilliant comedy troupe Firesign Theater postulated the existence of a government office called "The Department of Redundancy Department." Which would be a really funny joke if it wasn't costing taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.
So says a new report from the Government Accountability Office, which has discovered (surprise!) that our bloated bureaucracy has so many duplicate and overlapping programs and supervisory agencies that taxpayers are paying many times over to do a single job...and that the multiple agencies not only make things more expensive, but more confusing and less effective.
There are so many duplicate agencies, and so little oversight, that no one even knows which agencies are accomplishing anything. For instance, there are 47 different job training programs, but only five have been evaluated for effectiveness since 2004. There are 18 food assistance programs, but 11 of them have virtually no documentation of effectiveness. Need help getting transportation for the handicapped? No problem...as long as you can figure out which of 79 agencies to call.
Teacher effectiveness programs? There are 80 of them...and as nearly as we can tell, none of them are working. And there are 100 different funding programs for highways and rail, which is why you now need a GPS just to find your way through the maze of offices.
Although most Republicans and Democrats agree that the GAO report gives a good map of potential budget cuts, the Whitehouse is a bit less enthusiastic.
In reaction to the news that hundreds of billions in savings are available, Presidential Spokesman Jay Carney cautioned "The question is where do you cut in a way that doesn’t harm the economy, doesn’t throw it in reverse, doesn’t reduce job growth, job creation, and it protects the investments that are so key to longer-term economic growth in this country."
Which seems to indicate that Mr. Obama believes such overspending and redundancy are actually good for the economy, and should be repeated as necessary. And repeated and repeated and...