Issa asks agencies for alternative sequestration cuts

Friday - 3/1/2013, 6:33pm EST

A senior House lawmaker wants agencies to scrub their budgets and get rid of wasteful and duplicative programs as an alternative to across-the-board cuts under sequestration.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote a letter to 17 agencies asking for data around two basic concepts:

  • A targeted list of programmatic spending reductions that would be more beneficial to the American people than the across-the-board sequestration;

  • A list of programs no longer necessary to meet the goals of the agency.

"The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has catalogued hundreds of recommendations from the community of inspectors general to reduce waste and improve efficiency throughout the federal bureaucracy," Issa wrote Friday. "Many of their recommendations can be implemented in the short term."

The committee is holding a hearing Tuesday with two IGs and two deputy secretaries from the departments of Education and Transportation to explore why these agencies haven't implemented more of the auditors' recommendations to fix programs.

At DoT, Issa points out the IG recommended integrating a master schedule framework, policy and standard operating procedures for the development of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) to improve program efficiency. But DoT has yet to do it.

Issa isn't the only lawmaker to call for agencies to get rid of wasteful or duplicative programs as a way to deal with sequestration cuts. Sen. Tom Coburn (R- Okla.), ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, issued multiple reports over the last two years highlighting what he called wasteful spending.

Just last week, Coburn wrote to the Office of Management and Budget asking for a partial hiring freeze on those positions deemed a low-priority as sequestration takes effect.

OMB too has focused on trying to get rid of wasteful or duplicative programs. The administration proposed in its fiscal 2013 budget request to Congress to cut and consolidate 210 programs that would save $520 billion over the next 10 years.

Congress and the White House have agreed to very few of the administration's suggestions for cuts or consolidations.

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