Thompson Urges 24 Agency Heads to Cut Waste, Improve Performance

(Washington, DC) — Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson wrote individual letters today to 24 federal agency heads detailing their most serious management problems, including unresolved recommendations made to each agency by the General Accounting Office (GAO) and the Inspectors General (IG).

“Each year, we get reports from agencies, the media and 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,” said Thompson. “This Committee is determined to be persistent and helpful in following up on getting these problems corrected once and for all.”

Chairman Thompson has told each agency head he wants follow-up meetings of agency and committee staff to discuss their response to the information contained in the letters. Each of Thompson?s letters includes:

  • an analysis of how well the agency?s annual Results Act performance plan addresses its major management challenges; and

  • an analysis of how well agencies are responding to well over a thousand unresolved GAO and Inspector General (IG) audit recommendations to that agency designed to remedy these challenges.

For example, as the Governmental Affairs Committee has overseen the implementation of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), it has consistently asked agencies to set specific and measurable goals to solve their major management challenges. Although many agencies properly used the Results Act as a tool to solve many of these problems, others did not.

In his letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Senator Thompson complemented the agency?s use of the Results Act to set specific and measurable goals to solve 12 of 14 problem areas. Thompson specifically pointed to HHS? goal to reduce erroneous Medicare fee-for-service payments to seven percent by 2000 and to five percent by 2002 as an excellent use of the Results Act to establish a firm commitment for which the agency can be held accountable.

In his letter to the Treasury Department, however, Thompson expressed dismay that the agency didn?t use the Results Act to address four of the five high risk areas GAO identified and no plan was described to address any of the four high-risk problems at IRS. Thompson said of the Treasury letter, “They are missing out on an important tool we?ve given them to make progress on these intractable problems.”

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