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New Senate Bill Targets Administrative Costs

By Ed O'Keefe

Two senators have introduced legislation today that targets the growing administrative and overhead costs at federal agencies. The measure would require federal agencies to start listing administrative and overhead costs with budget requests and calls for an 11 percent cut in such expenses by 2013.

Agencies currently do not list anticipated administrative or overhead expenses. President Clinton attempted to mandate such reporting with a 1993 executive order that never caught on.

The bill, introduced by Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), comes amid a growing appetite for anything that curtails government waste, fraud and abuse. President Obama reiterated his support for pay-as-you-go budgeting last weekend and said he hopes agencies could keep some of the money saved from cost-cutting measures, a principle tried in many local and state governments with some success.

“During tough economic times, businesses tighten their belts and cut their overhead costs. Government should do the same,” Dorgan said in a statement. “This bill is an important step towards ensuring that taxpayer dollars are being used for critical programs that help American families and businesses -- not for unnecessary administrative costs.“

Coburn agreed, stating that “There is no reason Congress cannot adhere to the same principles as taxpayers are using when prioritizing spending."

Both senators have developed reputations as fiscal conservatives: Coburn is a frequent critic of spending measures advanced by members of both parties while Dorgan, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has long concerned himself with issues related to government waste, fraud and abuse.

By Ed O'Keefe  | April 30, 2009; 3:25 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Congress  
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Comments

Is this another blank check situation? The Government should be held accountable for their spending weather it is overhead or a particular program. I would love to spend,spend,spend without having to worry about paying for it later! The problem is only the Government can print money and they have had a lot of practice lately with the 3.5 trillion in spending. We (Americans) have to balance OUR check books why shouldn't the Government?

Posted by: Klimax | May 1, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I have been attempting to get someone to review the high administrative cost the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for over six years. A disproportion amount of CDC’s administrative cost is in the form of salaries and expenses. The GS-levels of most of the employees far exceed they work that they are performing. All of this is due to a Human Resources Office that believes good customer service is pleasing the managers that they serve. Recruitment is not based on the best candidate but on if he/she is a current contractor or a friend of someone in management if these candidates do not make the certificates or if a veteran is on top of the certificate they are returned with no selection. Most new employees are brought on board with an above the minimum because of their contract salaries. Retention, recruitment and relocation bonuses are the normal rather than the acceptation. To hide the actual amounts they are input into our automated personnel system as $25 or less. CDC has done several VSIP and VERAs approved by OPM which can pay an employee up to $25,000 it they retire or resign, most of these employees are back at CDC as contractors. Currently several Public Health Service Medical Officer have retired on Saturday and hired as civil servants on Sunday with salaries in excess of $200,000 plus eight hours of annual leave. In addition, CDC has over 6000 contract employees. CDC hires contractors, trains them and then recruit and hire them with above the minimum (Step 1 level) to match their contractor salaries that do not include the superior federal benefits package. This has been reported to the Assistant Secretary for Human Resources at headquarters HHS, the Atlanta Journal Constitution the local newspaper, a classification appeal was filed to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and made two submissions were made FraudNet over the last six years.

Posted by: Faithful1 | May 2, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

As a 30 year government manager I can appreciate the concerns. What wastes taxpayer money is where government managers and staff lose crucial time responding to studies, congressional inquiries, OIG and GAO investigations that attempt to find fire where there is none. It is very frustrating to take time away from the work I (we) am trying to do to serve the needs of the public who depend on us while trying to respond to these groups. Then we are held to task because we can't get our real work done. I don't doubt that there is waste in federal, state and local government operations,but a much more rational approach should be undertaken in identifying those areas.

Posted by: ibcasper1 | May 2, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

This is another of those arbitrary programs with no basis for the decision. Someone needs to study the situation to see if a problem exists and then attack the problems identified. Assuming you know the problem and the answer means you are destined to fail.

Posted by: bigtom6156 | May 4, 2009 7:19 AM | Report abuse

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