GovHelp: Budget Crunch – What Gov’t Programs Ought to Be Axed?

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This topic contains 36 replies, has 17 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Andrew Krzmarzick Andrew Krzmarzick 3 years, 10 months ago.

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  • #121379

    2/14 UPDATE: Here’s the President’s proposed budget:

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Overview/

    Within the next couple weeks, President Obama will release his version of the Federal budget. We know he’s going to be cutting some corners as the recent election sent a signal that the American public wants to get spending under control.

    The new Republicans in control of Congress just issued a blueprint for their budget reductions – finding $2.5 trillion to carve out. But their plan is still vague and two weeks ago, House Speaker Boehner couldn’t come up with any specific places to pare down.

    So let’s help the President and Congress out:

    What government programs ought to be axed?


    And this doesn’t need to be on the Federal level only – what state and local programs are worthy of being wiped out?

    Photo Credit: http://gothamschools.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/medicaid-budget-cuts.jpg

  • #121452

    To kick things off, here are some ideas from Bill Eggers, author of “If We Can Put a Man on the Moon” -

    http://www.governing.com/columns/mgmt-insights/serious-cost-cutters.html

    A quick excerpt from the article:

    There are several lessons to keep in mind when building a balanced cost reduction program:

    • People tend to overestimate cost savings, and dramatically underestimate implementation costs.
    • At least 30 percent more in savings than actually needed should be identified to achieve your overall target savings.
    • The people who work for government are not your enemy — they are the folks who will help you make these needed changes. They must feel respected and their contributions valued, even as wrenching changes are taking place.
  • #121450

    Don’t look at me! I’m going to get kinda greedy here and say that street-level agencies have pretty much had all they can of budget cuts. The amount of stress that the social safety net is under due to the depression is only exacerbated by budget cuts.

  • #121448

    But if I had to pick one, I’d go with some of the defense spending cuts that Secretary Gates suggested https://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2011/01/defence_cuts

  • #121446
    Profile photo of Ed Albetski
    Ed Albetski
    Participant

    Pardon the levity, but historically speaking we really should consider deep-sixing the State Department. I’m sure we can contract the British to do our diplomacy for us at a reduced rate – they’ve always been so much better at it than we have. We win wars, but seem to lose money every time. We must be doing something wrong…

  • #121444
    Profile photo of Allen Sheaprd
    Allen Sheaprd
    Participant

    Ed,

    Well said. In the spirit of levity see your point. Germans do cars, French do food, Brits do scheduals, Japonese make quality, we make neat things but also gave up “we do not strike first”

  • #121442
    Profile photo of Allen Sheaprd
    Allen Sheaprd
    Participant

    Without having worked the numbers, thr these four things.

    1) Fix medicaid and medicare – huge savings there. Plus we are re-using a system already in place while fixing known flaws.

    2) Raise the minimum income for medicade to 30K per person, 80K for a family. IMO, one needs to be making 30 K to make it. Yes this would also cover college students as they make less than 30K per year.

    3) Re-do Healthcare affordability act so it can be worked out.

    4) People on Medicade must work towards a drug free and healthy lifestyle. A Healthy life helps both the patient and us, focus on the person.

  • #121440

    I agree with this one, Christopher…as a percentage of the overall budget, defense is a prime place and well overdue for some pruning.

  • #121438

    Ha! And swap Energy for Dutch windmill solutions… :-)

  • #121436
    Profile photo of Deborah Rexon
    Deborah Rexon
    Participant

    Every year government organizations, large and small, are taxed with producing a variety of reports (pick one or all — annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly). IMHO many of these reports go unread; gathered data is neither shared nor disseminated, and countless manhours are wasted in producing the reports for an audience of one or two. Leadership (at all levels starting with the top down) needs to pare the paperwork, and let organizations concentrate on doing their jobs. If data must be collected, create active online templates than can be filled in online, and saved for future reference.

    And when it comes to award submissions, who hasn’t seen the crazy time and effort that goes into filling out the form in a certain way (i.e. bullet takes only one line and ends as close to the end of the line as possible)? Remember last summer’s story from Afghanistan on the “death by powerpoint” controversy? For every task we accomplish, we must ask ourselves what’s the ROI of this.

  • #121434

    If anyone knows how to cut the defense budget while still keeping us safe – it’s the Secretary of Defense

  • #121432
    Profile photo of Paul G. Claeyssens
    Paul G. Claeyssens
    Participant

    I agree, as long as Defense is “off the (cutting) table” there can be no meaningful and substantial budget cuts

  • #121430
    Profile photo of Allen Sheaprd
    Allen Sheaprd
    Participant

    I have to belive the picture is photo-shopped but …. it does not look half bad.

    With 13 trillion dollar debt, let me see about getting the daily interest amount. 1.4 billion a day comes to mind but that figure may be high. Interest payments worked out to one nuclear air carft carrier per week, plus crew the last time we worked the numbers.

    I vote for cutting the deficit.

  • #121428
    Profile photo of Paul G. Claeyssens
    Paul G. Claeyssens
    Participant

    According to Forbes’ Ken Fisher “We will spend roughly $300 billion net on US government debt in 2011, less than than defense. . .”

  • #121426

    Well said…and great argument for moving more and toward web-based solutions.

  • #121424
    Profile photo of Allen Sheaprd
    Allen Sheaprd
    Participant

    @Paul

    US treas says $413.95 Billion in 2010 or 1.13 billion a day. (Source: http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/ir/ir_expense.htm )

    I hope Ken Fisher is right. I could be wrong. With a 14.06 Trillion dollar debt, its got to be a chunck of change.

    Defense is running about 685 billion. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget_of_the_United_States )

    Dept Of Health and Human services has the largets budget at 845 Billion

    (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Department_of_Health_and_Human_Services ) The folks I know shy away from HHS cuts for emotional reasons.

  • #121422
    Profile photo of Paul G. Claeyssens
    Paul G. Claeyssens
    Participant

    Probably hard to accurately estimate our debt servicing, but wow, HSS, that is major! And I assume Medicare and Medicaid are the biggest sectors of that budget (1/4 of federal spending)?

  • #121420
    Profile photo of GovLoop
    GovLoop
    Keymaster

    I’d focus and eliminate duplicate programs. The government is big and often there are very similar programs in different agencies (or different parts of agencies). I think it’s killed already but when I was an auditor there were 4-5 information sharing systems b/w fed/state/local and not all were needed

  • #121418
    Profile photo of Allen Sheaprd
    Allen Sheaprd
    Participant

    @Paul,

    Yea it Surprised me. The choices are often hard. In 2010 several million was givin to help pay for drugs so AIDS patients could live longer. This did not stop the virus nor prevent its transmission. My quandry was over “quality of life” I’ll have to find the press release to back this up.

    HHS size is why fixing Medicaide and rasing the mim to 40K so those who can not afford insurance gets coverage. The sticky part comes with cost reductions “healthy drug free life style” If people want free medical care, IMO, they should do all they can to be as healthy as possible.

    @Paul, there is one more point not brought up. Warren Buffett, second to Bill Gates in money” pointed out “We are not fixing the ‘brick and mortor’ costs. Health care, any program, is made cheaper by cutting the cost of supplies not cutting service nor quality”

  • #121416
    Profile photo of Greg Strutt
    Greg Strutt
    Participant

    I concur, but how many politicians are willing to even talk about cutting Medicare or Medicaid

  • #121414
    Profile photo of Bill Brantley
    Bill Brantley
    Participant

    You all will probably accuse me of getting kickbacks from the Project Management Institute but I think the best cost savings could be realized in Federal, state, and local governments if they do a better job managing their projects. Kundra’s 25-point plan is a great start but we need to go further in adopting agile project management practices. If governments tighten up their entire project management process from making a good business case for actually starting a project to gathering good user requirements to delivering a project product that actually fulfills the scope we can realize tremendous savings. I don’t know if such a study has been done but I am willing to bet that a large part of the national debt is due to failed major projects.

  • #121412
    Profile photo of Peter Sperry
    Peter Sperry
    Participant

    You may have a more valid point than you realize. The degree to which many foriegn countries have offloaded their national defense to the U.S. security umbrella is staggering. We currently have more destroyers supressing piracy between the Bay of Bengal and the Pacific than all the nations in southeast Asia combined. We are picking up most of the costs for peacekeepin around the world but particularly in the Balkans and Africa. We are taking the lead on going after the Somalian pirates and of course there is the global war on terror. As Russia found out yesterday, the U.S. is far from the only target.

    But I would not advocate charging for our security services. That is a little too mercenary for my tastes. Switzerland tried it during the Reformation and it didn’t work out very well. Instead, I would propose refocusing our military on North America. We could reduce defense spending considerably and still maintain a North American shield, including missile defense, that would preclude attacks on the U.S.. Also redploying all those drones currently used in Afgahnistan and Pakistan would help secur our southern border.

  • #121410
    Profile photo of Pamela Corey
    Pamela Corey
    Participant

    I agree. Our military budget is spent too much on “others” and not enough on “ourselves.” We could save billions by not “nation-building” in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc., etc.

  • #121407
    Profile photo of Kaye Carney
    Kaye Carney
    Participant

    The DOD 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) does discuss DOD’s strategy for future within the U.S.

  • #121405
    Profile photo of Allen Sheaprd
    Allen Sheaprd
    Participant

    @Pamela,

    Yet by doing some nation building we help improve the lives of others.

    Puerto Rico complained about our bombing range till we threatened to move out – killing taking thousands of local support jobs and removing people who pump thousands per month into the local economy.

    HHS spends 200 million more on us than the Military 600 million dollar budget.

    With the federal deficite growing 3.4 trilion from 10.6 to 14 trillion in two years cuts are needed.

  • #121403
    Profile photo of Allen Sheaprd
    Allen Sheaprd
    Participant

    Is there a master list of all programs and their budgets?

  • #121401
    Profile photo of Peter Sperry
    Peter Sperry
    Participant

    You can find them all in the appendix to the president’s budget.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Appendix/

  • #121399
    Profile photo of 10up
    10up
    Keymaster

    Hi Bill-

    I will not accuse you of getting kickbacks…lol and I am in complete agreement of your statement. I am seeing champions of project management practices and lean as well but we need it at the senior levels. I’ll just leave it at that.

    Jenn

  • #121397
    Profile photo of Ginny Ivanoff
    Ginny Ivanoff
    Participant

    You may think of some of these ideas as crazy – am just throwing it out there – don’t flame either – I am just trying to be a little out of the box:

    There are duplicate agencies that need to be consolidates or asorbed into a larger agency that handles a similar area. Also inefficient systems (usually in-house developed systems like accounting, contracting, property – that have poor interconnectedness) need to be scrapped. Agencies should be able to share the best of what has proved to be efficient to help other agencies improve.

    Special rules in the area of procurement that keeps us from getting the best prices for goods and serives in the open market need to be scrapped.

    The Occupational series (for example, many support/management/finance/project & program management positions) pigeonholes employees and limits their abilities to perform other jobs or move within agencies. These need to be changed to allow for a more fluid and flexible workforce.

    Disaster relief was better coordinated in the days before FEMA – that is one agency where coodination does not equal efficiency. Break up FEMA and return the various funtions to the agencies that handled it better and just a small coordinating body should remain.

    DHS is a nightmare – and, like FEMA should be split and a small coordiation body should work with DOJ, DOD and the other invoved entities (CIA, FBI) to oversee security operations. Speaking of security, Chertoff was on the right track when we need to adopt the Israeli methodology….our inefficient scanners are easily tricked (I don’t mean the people, per se, but the tools/procedures of operations).

    Too many contracted out positions have reduced the number of low GS positions (and I have never seen a contract yet that benefits employees or the government). This raises the average federal salary and there are few openings for Vets, and especially the disabled to find work.

    Close some of our overseas bases…we cannot be the poilce any longer.

    Eliminate the EEO precomplaint process – make mediation mandatory – in the few agencies I know that mandate ADR, the formal complaints rate fell.

    HHS is a very rich agency – NIH in particular, though I do not wish to cut back on research spending, expenditures need to be scrutinized. Some positions are over-graded. One or two of the Institutes could be merged.

    More position sharing opportunities need to be created and telework programs need to be seriously enacted. We need to cut down on leased spaces.

    Closed stateside bases need to be converted to government offices, if do-able – again to cut leases. If not converted, then sold and not for pennies on the dollar.

    Legalize pot as we are wasting too much law enforcement/jail space on this (no, I don’t use) – the war on drugs has been a huge waste of money.

    O, and if we are going to contract out jobs – what functions can be contracted out to prisons for a far lower cost?

    Quit funding the Corps of Engineers mainly be earmarks. The Corps should be utilized to help rebuild the US infrastructure.

  • #121395
    Profile photo of Jenyfer Johnson
    Jenyfer Johnson
    Participant

    Well put Pamela! I have to agree. I have long said that we have to stop trying to be the World’s Policemen and start taking care of ourselves and let other countries take care of themselves…do a little more diplomacy and alot less militarily!!

    That would save HUGE amounts of money (and lives)!

  • #121393
    Profile photo of Jenyfer Johnson
    Jenyfer Johnson
    Participant

    I have to agree with the Deficit Commision’s recommendation of getting rid of earmarks completely!! That alone would save a large amount of money!

  • #121391
    Profile photo of Peter Sperry
    Peter Sperry
    Participant

    Do we really improve their lives or simply delay the day of reckoning until the pent up frustrations suppresed by our nation building efforts boil over? Sometimes people need to work out their own solutions.

    Also, we find ourselves too often taking sides between two groups of evil doers and pretending that our guys are really good. This makes us look either stupid or evil or both. We would be better to let the bad guys take each other down and than make clear to the last one standing the terrible price they will pay for trying anything within 500 miles of our borders.

  • #121389
    Profile photo of Jenyfer Johnson
    Jenyfer Johnson
    Participant

    Here’s an interesting little tidbit that caused me to cringe!

    

    http://rsc.jordan.house.gov/UploadedFiles/Spending_Reduction_Act–TWOPAGER.pdf

  • #121387
    Profile photo of Bill Brantley
    Bill Brantley
    Participant

    Thank you, Jennifer! :-)

    Well, I do my part to talk to senior management about lean management and better project management but it also helps to model that in your own work practices. There is a lot of talk but what convinces people is a good demonstration.

    Bill B.

  • #121385

    T-1 hour until the President releases his versions of the budget! Based on your read, feel free to suggest where he should have cut instead.

  • #121383
    Profile photo of Denise Petet
    Denise Petet
    Participant

    IMHO, the best way to cut is also the hardest…take some time and look into the various agencies and how and what they’re spending. Do they have positions that were created just for a ‘friend of a friend’…ie a person that really does nothing but rubber stamp paper all day. There are certain levels of accountability that are needed, but surely there are some that are redundant. Snip and prune at the excess. Encourage and work with agencies to be more internally efficient. Run an agency like a business. Get managers in there that have some business experience, that know how to manage and be smart with their budgets. Reward innovation, encourage creative thinking.

    While I do understand the need to help the needy all over the world (ie feeding the countries that are starving), we got people starving here at home. Shouldn’t we help our own first? This sounds horribly cruel and mean, but the reason some whole countries are starving is because there are simply too many people there than the land can support. There’s ‘help’ and there’s ‘help’ and surely there are some other countries that can help. We spend billions fighting our way through various civil wars to feed the refugees while our own people live on the streets. How about we focus more on putting our own house in order before we try to take care of the world. There are other advanced countries out there, let them take some of the burden.

    There are things in our country that need to be fixed, there’s no doubt of that, but we need to be smart in how we do it, not just toss money at the problem and hope it goes away. Or just randomly cut, cut, cut and brag at how much is ‘saved’. (It’s been my experience that money in these cases is rarely ‘saved’ but simply reallocated)

    How about dinging all those companies that have outsourced thousands of jobs? make our economy better by making it ‘cheaper’ for companies to employ people here. We’re more and more a consumer and not a producer. As such we will perpetually be at the mercy of other countries that are producers. We’re outsorcing ourselves to being a third world country. We need a good dose of pre WWII isolationalism and get our own stuff taken care of before we hit the point of no return.

  • #121381
    Profile photo of Conor Cusack
    Conor Cusack
    Participant

    Current state and federal Asset Forfeiture Laws could and should be amended. Under current Asset Forfeiture legislation, approximately 80% of illegally seized cash and property is diverted back to law-enforcement agencies. Having the highest regard for our sworn men and women in uniform, would it be too much to ask to shave 10-15% off the 80% and invest it in prevention and/or education. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske has conceded that the War on Drugs has failed and new strategies to addressing the issue must be employed. Re-distributing some of these infinite funds would be a start.

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