The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

New Grace Commission Needed

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.


Just five days after his historic election, President-elect Obama vowed to review every Executive Order signed by President Bush during the past eight years.  He made it clear that he intends to overturn some of them.

The President-elect should take his time during his review, as some Executive Orders are quite worthwhile.  For example, on June 30, 1982, President Ronald Reagan issued Executive Order 12369, establishing the President’s Private Sector Survey on Cost Control, and asked private businessman J. Peter Grace to chair what has become popularly known as the Grace Commission.  One hundred and sixty-one top executives, assisted by 2,000 volunteers from the private sector, contributed more than $75 million worth of their time and resources to examine all major federal programs and agencies.  In January 1984, the Grace Commission’s work culminated in a 47-volume report containing 2,478 recommendations to save taxpayers $424.4 billion over three years.

During the past 24 years, Grace Commission recommendations ranging from establishing a chief financial officer in federal agencies to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission were enacted.  With a projected $1 trillion deficit for 2009, it is once again time to find out how to save money and make the government more efficient.

While President-elect Obama has called for a line by line review of the budget, he should go further and call for a comprehensive bi-partisan examination of government waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement – in effect, a private sector survey on cost control or Grace Commission by a new name.

The new commission could do the following:  conduct in-depth reviews of the operations of federal agencies and evaluate improvements in agency operations; look for increased efficiency and reduced costs that can be realized by executive action or legislation; provide additional information and data relating to government expenditures, indebtedness and personnel management; and seek opportunities for increased managerial accountability and improvements.

Entrenched lobbyists and special interest groups, with their hands out for a piece of the pie, will never make it easy to cut federal spending.  That is why President-elect Obama should exhibit the same bold leadership demonstrated by President Reagan and establish a new Grace Commission.

If and how President Obama cuts spending will be indicative of whether or not his slogan of “change” was just another political gimmick.  Establishing a waste commission will send a strong signal to everyone that there is a new sheriff in town who really means business.

  -- David Williams

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