WASHINGTON – A bipartisan, bicameral group of Senators and Congressmen Wednesday joined the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to release the agency’s biennial list of federal programs at risk of fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement.
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Subcommittee on the Oversight of Government Management Chairman Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, and subcommittee Ranking Member Ron Johnson, R-Wis., were joined by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrel Issa, R-Calif., Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Comptroller General Eugene Dodaro to unveil the list.
Most of the 29 items on GAO’s high-risk list from previous years remain on the list this year, such as the Medicare and Medicaid programs and contract management at the Departments of Defense and Energy.
But GAO did remove the DoD Personnel Security Clearance Program and the 2010 Census – two items in which the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs has taken an active interest.
“This report is especially important this year,” Lieberman said. “At a time when our nation’s budget deficits are at historic levels, we must spend taxpayer dollars as if they were our own. We’re going to make GAO’s high-risk list our high priority list for action.”
Collins said: “As Congress works to address the out-of-control federal debt, part of this critical effort must be ensuring that our government is operating as efficiently and effectively as possible. The GAO High-Risk list is a valuable roadmap that identifies areas where the government needs to improve to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used more wisely.
“The task of rooting out waste, fraud, abuse and inefficiencies in the federal government, as well as identifying agencies and activities at risk of failure, requires persistent and diligent oversight. Chronic poor performers and unfortunate new additions to the 2011 GAO High-Risk list show that much work remains to be done.
“What is troubling about the latest High-Risk list is how little it has changed from 2009. That is why at his confirmation hearing, I asked Mr. Dodaro to provide guidance to the agencies and programs that have appeared on the list over and over again on the steps that can be taken to improve – so they can come off the next High-Risk list.”
Akaka said: Over the years, the Government Accountability Office's High Risk List has been a valuable oversight tool, especially in my subcommittee’s work to improve government management. For example, the Department of Defense Personnel Security Clearance Program has come off of the list for 2011 after several years of public hearings, meetings, and updates that uncovered and reformed an outdated, inefficient system. This progress we made on security clearances should serve as a model for future, sustained oversight efforts on other issues. This will be important for addressing management challenges and making the federal government more efficient, more effective, and more responsive.”
Johnson said: “One of the reasons that I requested an assignment to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is that I wanted to use my accounting background, and my 31 year experience running a manufacturing firm, to help bring some fiscal sanity to Washington. That background has taught me to look for the root causes of problems.
“I hope to help bring accountability to federal spending, because it is clear we need accountability. With a projected deficit this year of $1.65 trillion, government must begin to operate efficiently and effectively. The High Risk report released today is an important framework to focus our efforts, and highlight the areas of government most in need of repair. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the committee to accomplish that.”