Tester: Need to ‘drop the hammer’ to prevent wasteful spending

Senator tells Congress to ‘get off their duff’ and confirm oversight officials

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester today pushed President Obama and Congress to move quickly to nominate and confirm government officials tasked with saving taxpayer money and stopping wasteful spending.

Inspectors General are officials who identify fraud and wasteful spending – like overpayments – by federal agencies and recommend ways to reduce and eliminate future errors.  In 2012, federal agencies reported $108 billion in improper payments. 

Eight federal departments or agencies currently lack a permanent Inspector General. 

“There are a number of current vacancies for Inspectors General, and I think pressure needs to be put on Congress to get these folks confirmed,” Tester told Social Security Administration official Patrick Carroll Jr.  “How do these vacancies impact our ability to identify improper payments?”

Carroll told Tester that the lack of confirmed Inspectors General makes it difficult for other officials to force agencies to open up their books to identify wasteful spending.

“So you see it as a problem for acting administrators to drop the hammer to find out what’s going on,” Tester replied.  “The Administration and Congress need to get off their duff to get these folks confirmed.”

Tester also pushed Carroll, as well as Office of Management and Budget official Daniel Werfel, to explain how they evaluate efforts to identify improper payments and how well they crackdown on individuals who continue to seek unemployment benefits even after getting a job.

Tester, who earlier this year called on the President to “act swiftly” to fill the vacant oversight positions, questioned the witnesses as part of a Senate Government Affairs Committee hearing on curbing wasteful spending and fraud in the federal government.

Tester recently became chairman of the panel’s subcommittee tasked with improving government efficiency and effectiveness.  His first hearing on May 23 will identify ways that federal agencies can better work together, and with private organizations, to improve the delivery of health care to rural America.

Video of Tester’s hearing today is available online HERE.


Contact:          Andrea Helling or Dan Malessa – (202) 228-0371