Mission/History | Citizens Against Government Waste


Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) is a 501(c)(3) private, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing more than 1 million members and supporters nationwide. CAGW works to eliminate waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government through research and public education activities. Founded in 1984 by the late businessman J. Peter Grace and late Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Jack Anderson, CAGW is the legacy of President Ronald Reagan's Private Sector Survey on Cost Control, also known as the Grace Commission.

The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) is the 501(c)(4) lobbying arm of CAGW.  CCAGW’s mission is to advocate the elimination of waste and inefficiency in government through lobbying and grassroots activities.  Each year, CCAGW tabulates its Congressional Ratings, evaluating how each member of Congress measures up on key tax and spending votes.

In 1982, President Reagan directed the Grace Commission to "work like tireless bloodhounds to root out government inefficiency and waste of tax dollars."  For two years, 161 corporate executives and community leaders led an army of 2,000 volunteers on a waste hunt through the federal government. The search was funded entirely by voluntary contributions of $76 million from the private sector; it cost taxpayers nothing. The Grace Commission made 2,478 recommendations, which would save $424.4 billion over three years, an average of $141.5 billion a year − all without eliminating essential services.

The 47 volumes and 21,000 pages of the Grace Commission Report constituted a vision of an efficient, well-managed government that is accountable to taxpayers. CAGW has worked to make that vision a reality and, in three decades, has helped save taxpayers more than $1.9 trillion through the implementation of Grace Commission findings and other cost-cutting recommendations.

The late Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) called CAGW, “the tip of the spear in the fight against pork-barrel spending, corruption, and business as usual in Washington.”  Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has praised CAGW for doing “a great job of highlighting the waste and the culture of corruption that is rampant in Washington, [which] sadly, [is] a bipartisan affair.”  And former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) credited CAGW with being “the vanguard of this [fight against runaway spending] for years!”

Today, CAGW is nationally recognized as the source of information on government waste.  CAGW’s waste findings have been featured in virtually every national newspaper and newsmagazine, including The New York Times, Time, U.S. News & World Report, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, as well as on all of the nightly network television news programs and on other national network and cable news shows, such as “20/20,” “60 Minutes,” “Dateline,” “Hannity,” “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” “The O’Reilly Factor,” “PBS NewsHour,” “Squawk Box,” and “Your World with Neil Cavuto.” 

In carrying out its mission, CAGW authors and publishes original research, investigative reports, the WasteWatcher blog, a comprehensive catalogue of private- and public-sector recommendations to reform the federal government, and a renowned exposé of pork-barrel spending, the Congressional Pig Book.  CAGW also testifies before Congress, holds briefings to educate congressional staff, hosts conferences and public forums, and makes presentations before civic groups.

CAGW’s and CCAGW’s record of success stems entirely from the voluntary support provided by individual, foundation, and corporate contributors.  CAGW and CCAGW receive 72 percent of their contributions from individual Americans.