Governmental Affairs To Address GAO’s “High-Risk” Programs

Washington, DC–Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN) today responded to the report by the General Accounting Office (GAO) on federal program areas identified as “high risk” because they are vulnerable to waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement. Thompson said he was “deeply disturbed by this report. Of particular concern to me is that so many of these areas are on the list year after year, with little improvement. As Chairman I intend to do whatever is necessary to address the problems cited.

“We do have a number of new laws,” Thompson said, “which address these serious problems, including the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). But we need to implement and enforce these laws if we are to improve the situation.”

The GAO report identified 25 areas particularly vulnerable to waste, fraud and abuse–often as a result of inattention or mismanagement. For example, GAO said that the Defense Department wastes billions of dollars each year on unnecessary and inefficient activities, and wastes billions more on unnecessary supplies.

As another example, according to GAO the Internal Revenue Service’s accounting is so poor that it cannot effectively manage the collection of more than $113 billion owed the United States in delinquent taxes. Thompson also said that he was “particularly concerned about a new entry on the GAO list which says there are increasing problems with computer security in government. Sensitive information about Americans must be protected at all costs.”

In the last several years new laws such as the Chief Financial Officers Act, the Clinger-Cohen procurement reform act, GPRA, the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act and the Paperwork Reduction Act have been passed by Congress to help government operate in a sound, business-like manner. Thompson said “it is for us–the Congress and the Administration–to work together to ensure that these management reforms now in place are implemented and accomplish their goals to improve government performance and results.”

Thompson said he would invite Administration officials to testify at hearings on how effectively these bipartisan management reforms are being implemented, and on the GAO’s “high risk” report.