This might come as a bit of a shock to some, but it appears that the federal government is inefficient. The Government Accountability Office released a report yesterday showing that when it comes to federal agencies, the right hand knows not what the left hand does.
The U.S. government has more than 100 programs dealing with surface transportation issues, for example, 82 that monitor teacher quality, 80 for economic development, 56 for “financial literacy,” 20 offices or programs devoted to homelessness and 17 grant programs for disaster preparedness.
And at a time when educational institutions like my own university are being hectored by accrediting bodies (indirectly driven by the feds) to adopt ever more measures of “assessment,” this factoid in particular was interesting: “About half of the nation’s 47 job training programs with a budget of $18 billion have had no performance reviews since 2004, which led the GAO to conclude that ‘little is known about the effectiveness of most programs.'”
Physician, heal thyself.
The GAO report even criticizes redundancies at the Pentagon, where I’m surprised the bean counters were allowed through the door, as much as the DoD’s budget is shrouded in secrecy.
Of course, every redundant and wasteful dollar in these budgets has some bureaucrat or group of bureaucrats ready to fight to the death to preserve it. I wish the cost-cutters the best in trying to reduce the waste that is out there, but I’m afraid that so much energy will be expended in fighting the entrenched interests here that there will be little left over to have serious policy debates, like what to do about the $100 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities over the next several decades.