CAGW Spending Cut Alert: USDA Economic Action Program

For Immediate Release
March 3, 2011

 

Contact:  Leslie K. Paige 202-467-5334 Luke Gelber 202-467-5318

CAGW Spending Cut Alert: USDA Economic Action Program

(Washington, D.C.) –Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) issued its weekly spending cut alert aimed at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Action Program (EAP). Its elimination would save taxpayers $5 million in 2011 and $25 million over five years.

Originally established under the Forest Service’s dubious mission of helping rural communities take advantage of natural resources, the EAP has become an annual source of pork. Its funding, which is controlled entirely by Congress, has been heavily earmarked (often anonymously) and wasted on tasks clearly outside the Forest Service’s mission. It provided $10,000 to Washington’s Pacific County Water Music Festival in 1997, and has funded wastewater treatment studies, community centers, and manufacturing facilities, mostly in the Pacific Northwest.

A March 1, 2011 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that federal economic development programs are duplicative and wasteful. The GAO identified $6.5 billion in funding for 80 separate economic development programs at the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, and the Small Business Administration, 46 of which may be addressing overlapping issues or populations. According to the GAO, USDA manages 31economic development programs and lacks “quality data on program outcomes.” The GAO has repeatedly advocated consolidation of development programs, but USDA has “taken only limited steps to fully address GAO’s concerns.”

CAGW President Tom Schatz said “This week’s GAO report made the unequivocal statement that dozens of USDA programs either do not achieve their stated goals or duplicate the goals of another agency. In the case of the EAP, it is unclear what those goals were in the first place. What has become crystal clear is that the USDA needs to shrink, and the EAP is a great place to start cutting.”

The USDA’s Economic Action Program is included in CAGW’s Prime Cuts database, a compendium of 763 waste-cutting recommendations that would save taxpayers $350 billion in the first year and $2.2 trillion over five years. It was recommended for removal in President Bush’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 Terminations, Reductions, and Savings, and was similarly nominated by President Obama in FYs 2011 and 2012.

Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse in government. The Spending Cut of the Week calls attention to a federal program that is wasteful or duplicative.

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