Waste and Fraud Problems? Cut the Investigators and It Will Disappear!
Wednesday 5 October 2011
by: Dina Rasor, Truthout | Solutions

So, you have a 90-year-old federal agency [4] that returns $87 for every dollar invested, recommended $50 billion in savings every year, writes over 1,000 reports to Congress every year and had 80 percent of its recommendations over the past five years instituted (at least on paper), all on a budget of half a billion dollars a year – peanuts compared to other government spending. You would think that this agency would get a big atta boy thanks and increased spending from the Congress to hire more staff and find more fraud and waste during these tight budget times.

No such luck. Both chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations committees had suggested cutting the budget [5] of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) enough to cut into the staff that goes out and investigates how the money is spent. It seems to be an odd situation where the Congress would cut its own agency that saves them money, but the clue is who is insisting on the cuts – the appropriators of the money. The cut GAO movement got started by House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Kentucky) who wants to cut 6.4 percent of the GAO budget, but the Senate Appropriations Chairman Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) has gone one step further and recommended an even bigger cut, 7.6 percent, than the Republican chair.

The Appropriations Committees in Congress have always been a place to go to get government money for your pet project. Lobbyists swarm the place and spread their money around to make sure that they get their piece of the appropriations pie, and members of the committee are laden with campaign contributions, especially the chairmen. Both of the chairmen are being chastised by the penny pinchers in the Congress for these cuts, but Nelson is getting much of the blowback. But he has one of the most powerful money machines in the country, if not the world, and he will probably turn a blind eye to the few Congressional watchdogs who think that the GAO will continue to pay for itself many times over.

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