Govovernment Waste, Fraud & Abuse
As chairman and now ranking member of the Governmental Affairs Committee, Senator Thompson has worked to make government more accountable and more efficient. As government grows smaller it is even more important that it work effectively so that people who depend on it will be better served. Thompson said, "Recent public surveys have found that wasteful federal spending is the leading cause of low public confidence in government. The American people want value for their money -- good service for the least amount of money. They don't want a hollow government or one with grandiose missions that can't deliver the goods. They want a smaller one that gets results."
No one knows how much the federal government loses to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement. Federal agencies are not required to keep this information, and most don?t. When the Governmental Affairs Committee added up examples of waste, fraud, and abuse from various government reports, it documented more than $220 billion in taxpayer losses.
Senator Thompson has committed the resources of the Committee to press agencies to resolve the most egregious cases of government waste and mismanagement. Twenty five programs collectively known as ?high risk programs? have been identified by the General Accounting Office (GAO) as particularly vulnerable to waste, fraud and abuse. At a hearing exploring solutions to these high risk problems, Senator Thompson said he was "deeply disturbed that so many of these areas are on the list year after year, with little improvement.
In 1999, Senator Thompson wrote individual letters to 24 major federal agencies detailing their most serious management problems, including unresolved recommendations made to each agency by the GAO and the Inspectors General (IG). Senator Thompson said at the time, ?Each year, we get reports from agencies, the media and the GAO detailing how many billions of dollars the government wastes. We bring the responsible agency up here and fuss at them, but then everyone goes back to business as usual. I am determined to be persistent and helpful in following up on getting these problems corrected once and for all.? The Committee has met with each of these agencies to ensure that they are taking action to address many of the problems of waste, fraud, and abuse plaguing the federal government.
The Committee held a series of hearings during the 105th Congress on high risk areas at the IRS, the Department of Defense, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Bureau of the Census as well as on the government-wide high risk problems of computer security and the Year 2000 software conversion. The Committee will continue to search for solutions to get these programs off the ?high risk list.?
Senator Thompson relentlessly pursues instances of waste, fraud, and abuse among Executive Branch agencies. Such efforts include disclosing that the average cost per passenger under NASA?s charter contract ranged from $2,753 to $19,883, which resulted in the cancellation of the contract; discovering widespread fraud and mismanagement in a Department of Agriculture?s child feeding program; and the improper discharge of almost $80 million in loans under the Federal Family Education Loan Program.
Another key component of Senator Thompson?s fight against government waste, fraud, and abuse is his leadership role in the Inspector General community. Inspectors General (IGs) are statutorily-created offices at 59 federal agencies whose job it is to identify problems in federal government programs and help government run more cheaply, responsibly, and wisely. The Governmental Affairs Committee oversees the IGs.
The Committee has made good use of the IGs, relying on their work regarding computer security, dual-use and munitions controls, and regulatory reform. The Committee held hearings to study what makes an IG effective and to determine whether the Clinton Administration is providing these important officials enough support and guidance
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