Quote of the week
“Overall, there’s concern about how we can continue to provide the valuable and essential information that we do to Congress, if the size of our workforce continues to decrease.”
– Gene Dodaro.
Gene Dodaro is the Comptroller General of the U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO). These guys are the watchdogs of potentially wasteful government programs, and the office seems to be one of the few government organizations that has bipartisan support.
Its most recent report was released just over a month ago. It found 32 areas of overlap and duplication, and 19 other areas where the government could cut back costs or bring in more money.
Potential savings, according to the GAO, are in the tens of billions of dollars annually if the government were to follow its advice.
As it turned out, last fall Congress cut the GAOï¿½s budget by $30 million, and its staff numbers will be dropping to 1930 levels by the end of 2012.
Dodaro is now asking for more resources so he can get the job done.
There is a lesson here. Sometimes it costs money to save money.
Those in Congress favouring ongoing cuts to the office talk of the out-of-control Washington “bureaucracy.” Those defending the GAO argue that its work is helping the government find ways to reduce costs.
All of which reminds us that cuts should not be made simply “across the board” or because an organization is associated with “government.” The fact is government has a role to do, and organizations like the GAO can help it do the job better – and cheaper.
And perhaps the issue is less the GAO watchdog, but more a political one. How willing are politicians to follow advice of organizations like the GAO (perhaps in Canada, like the Auditor General or other parliamentary watchdogs like the Parliamentary Budget Officer) and follow informed advice to make smart decisions on cutting and saving?