The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

"Campaign to Cut Waste" Falls Short

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


On June 13, 2011, President Obama issued Executive Order No. 13576, which called for "Delivering an Effective, Efficient and Accountable Government."  In a short video released on June 12, 2011, President Obama identified specific examples of the types of savings that could be achieved through the Executive Order. He touted the entire effort as his "Campaign to Cut Waste," which, as CAGW noted at the time, was the fifth such effort to reduce wasteful spending created by the President.

One of the promises then made by President Obama was to cut the number of federal websites in half within a year.  He concurrently declared a moratorium on any new websites.

As The Washington Times noted this morning in a front-page article by Stephan Dinan, there were 1,750 federal agency web domains in June 2011.  One year later, the number was down by only 16 percent to 1,478, and as of last week, the total had been reduced to 1,280, or 27 percent of the starting figure.  In other words, the effort to cut the number of websites in half is one year behind schedule and barely halfway toward its goal.  The article also pointed out that the President's website moratorium was broken by the establishment of 15 new websites by various agencies over the past two years, including two this year by the Treasury Department.

In addition to the failure to achieve this relatively simply goal, the Times reported that the administration has fallen short of the requirements set under EO 13576.  Much of this information was included in Congressional Research Service reports in 2012 and 2013 on implementation of each provision of the EO, which were requested by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

The 2012 CRS report noted that section 3 of the EO called for the establishment of a Government Accountability and Transparency Board, which was supposed to meet monthly and provide reports to Vice President Biden on the progress being made to achieve the goals set in the EO.  CRS found that the board had meet only eight times between June 2011 and December 2011, but not thereafter.  There were no monthly meetings; the only time the Vice President was made aware of any of the board's activities was at his request for an update in November 2011.

Administration officials told Dinan that they had exceeded reached the goal set by President Obama of $8 billion in administrative savings in 2012 and had set a higher goal of $8.8 billion in such savings in 2013.  Those achievements included a cut of $2 billion in travel and conference spending between 2010 and 2012 and the identification of $8 billion worth of unneeded federal property.

As Sen. Coburn's press secretary John Hart told the Times, regardless of the progress or lack thereof on the Campaign to Cut Waste, the Obama administration (and Congress) should be focused on cutting the tens of billions of dollars identified by the Government Accountability Office in its 2011, 2012, and 2013 reports on duplication and overlap, a suggestion with which CAGW wholeheartedly agrees.

Indeed, it is unseemly for the administration to take a victory lap over less than $9 billion in annual administrative savings (whether or not such claims are credible) when it amounts to less than one-tenth of one percent of the $1.258 trillion in fiscal year 2013 discretionary spending.  On the other hand, it would not be surprising if a new White House website popped up soon just to tout these achievements.

 

 

 

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