WASHINGTON – A bipartisan, bicameral group of Senators and Congressmen Thursday helped unveil the Government Accountability Office’s biennial list of federal agencies at high-risk of waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement, or in need of broad reform.
The list, released at the beginning of every Congress since 1990, contained four new programs since the 2007 list was published, and one program listed in 2007 was removed, for a total of 30 agencies, departments or programs now at risk. Accompanying Acting GAO Comptroller General Gene Dodaro were Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., Committee Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Committee members Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii and George Voinovich, R-Ohio, and House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Ed Towns, D-N.Y., and Ranking Member Darrell Issa, R-Ca.
“Because of the Department of Homeland Security’s essential mission to keep the American people safe, GAO’s listing of the entire Department, once again, is distressing but not unexpected,” Lieberman said. “We are acutely aware of the Department’s progress, as well as its shortcomings, and we have put its continued improvement at the top of our to-do list.”
Collins said: “The High-Risk list that GAO releases every Congress serves as a road map to those of us in Congress and the Administration. 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. Whether it is helping to ensure that programs such as the 2010 census are viable, protecting our nation’s critical infrastructure or modernizing an outdated financial regulatory system, it is obvious from GAO’s 2009 High Risk list that much work remains to be done.”
Akaka said: “Much still needs to be done to improve management of federal programs, in particular at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). We must empower the DHS Under Secretary for Management with the authority and resources to promote management reform. Unfortunately strategic human capital management remains on the high-risk list. The federal government should be an employer of choice, and I am committed to working with OPM to improve the hiring process. I look forward to continuing the strong relationship that our Committees have with GAO in increasing accountability and reducing waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal government.”
Voinovich said: “Far too often, government programs are dysfunctional, resulting in the waste of resources that could be better used for higher priority programs or cutting the deficit. Accordingly, I have dedicated myself to improving government management and ensuring we have the right people in the right place at the right time to get the job done. This updated list is a valuable oversight tool and serves as an important reminder that there is still much to be done in the area of management as we search for solutions to the challenges facing our nation. What a great gift we could provide to the American public if we were to reduce the level of waste, fraud and abuse in these High-Risk areas with the best and brightest civil servants.”
New on the GAO’s list this year are modernizing the federal financial regulatory system, protecting public health through better oversight of medical products, transforming EPA’s processes for accessing and controlling toxic chemicals. The 2010 Census preparations were added to the list in 2008. Falling off the list was the Federal Aviation Administration’s air traffic control modernization.
“The inclusion on this year’s list of the need to modernize the federal financial regulatory system is critically important,” Lieberman added. “This Committee held its first in a series of hearings yesterday – based on another excellent GAO report – on the current patchwork of financial regulatory agencies that failed to anticipate and prevent the financial meltdown and how we can reform the system. This Committee will be closely examining that breakdown and making recommendations not just for a quick fix, but for comprehensive reform.”