$280 Billion a Year in Federal Waste, Abuse Is Identified

Published July 1, 2007

According to current budget proposals, Congress cannot find a single wasteful program or project it wants to cut.

But in April, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) released Prime Cuts 2007, a comprehensive look at the depth and breadth of waste throughout the federal government. The annual publication provides recommendations to create a more efficient and less wasteful government.

Prime Cuts includes examples of agencies, programs, and policies that are plagued by fraud or negligence, serve political or parochial interests rather than the general good, do not demonstrate good results, duplicate efforts in the private sector, circumvent procedural checks for transparency and accountability, or exceed their original mandate.

During fiscal 2007, 14 Prime Cuts recommendations were implemented under the Congressional budget, saving taxpayers almost $3 billion in the first year and $46.5 billion over five years.

$2 Trillion Over Five Years

This year’s report catalogues 750 recommendations throughout the federal government which, if enacted, could save taxpayers $280 billion over the next year and $2 trillion over the next five years.

Included in the 2007 Prime Cuts are some longstanding proposals to terminate specific programs, such as the White House’s National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign (saving $512 million over five years), sugar subsidies (saving $800 million over five years), and the Advanced Technology Program (saving $721 million over five years).

Created to reduce marijuana use, the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign has been the target of a lawsuit concerning the integrity of the campaign’s ad agency, two government reports detailing the failure of the campaign, and another study showing the ads have a reverse effect.

In June 2006, CAGW released “Wasted in the War on Drugs: Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Wasted Efforts,” a report that criticized the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the youth anti-drug campaign for functioning inefficiently and failing to achieve their core objectives.

Costly Subsidies, Quotas

The current U.S. sugar subsidy program includes government-set price floors, government-enforced marketing quotas, and strict limits on imports. It distorts markets, hampers trade liberalization, costs consumers, and will become increasingly costly to taxpayers in the years ahead, the study shows.

The program keeps U.S. sugar prices at least twice the world level.

The Advanced Technology Program (ATP) was created in 1988 to provide research and development technology grants to small businesses. It essentially provides research grants to private companies that do not necessarily need them, including some Fortune 500 companies.

ATP allows the government to choose winners and losers in the technology race instead of leaving their success up to their ability to create useful products and services. Furthermore, taxpayers nationwide pay for ATP but the funds are distributed unevenly, with more than half of ATP funding going to companies in only five states.

New Targets

New recommendations in the 2007 Prime Cuts report include eliminating the Historic Whaling and Trading Partners Program and the Denali Commission, which together would save $80 million over five years.

The purpose of the Historic Whaling and Trading Partners program is to develop culturally based educational activities, internships, apprentice programs, and exchanges to assist Alaska Natives, native Hawaiians, children and families living in Massachusetts, and certain Indian tribes in Mississippi.

Projects funded by the program in 2006 include the New Bedford Whaling Museum and the Peabody Essex Museum, both in Massachusetts, the Alaska Native Heritage Center, and the Bishop Museum in Hawaii.

Established in 1998, the Denali Commission is a federal partnership with Alaska to provide utilities, infrastructure, and economic support to poor rural communities. The commission duplicates several U.S. Department of Labor programs, including those related to the Workforce Investment Act, from which Alaskans received $10.6 million in 2006.

Tom Schatz ([email protected]) is president of Citizens Against Government Waste in Washington, DC.

For more information …

Prime Cuts 2007, Citizens Against Government Waste, http://www.cagw.org/site/PageServer?pagename=reports_primecuts