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Entries in GAO (3)

Monday
Apr232012

White House Downplays GAO Report on Questionable Bonuses

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The White House Monday downplayed a Government Accountability Office report calling into question the effectiveness of bonuses distributed in a $8.3 billion demonstration program for Medicare Advantage.

The bonuses are part of a scaled structure that is supposed to encourage “larger and faster annual quality improvement,” the report says. One of the problems, GAO says, is that because of its poor design, most of the bonuses go not to excelling plans but to satisfactory ones. The size of this demonstration project is considerable; the GAO recommended that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius cancel this bonus payment system.

Asked about the report, White House press secretary Jay Carney immediately changed the subject to the $200 billion in projected savings from eliminating improper payments under the health care law. While briefly addressing “the temporary demonstration program” as one way “to improve the quality of care in Medicare Advantage,” Carney said it was important to put the $8.3 billion “in context....And in fact we’re phasing out over $200 billion in overpayments to Medicare Advantage plans on schedule.”

The GAO report said that the bonus plan in the Medicare Advantage demonstration program undermines deficit reduction goals. The “reliance on predemonstration performance data, the absence of an appropriate comparison group of MA plans, and design features that are inconsistent with its research goal make it unlikely that the demonstration will produce meaningful results,” the report says.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who requested the GAO study, said that the “timing of this demonstration program raises serious questions about the Obama administration’s use of taxpayer dollars for political purposes. According to the GAO report, ‘The largest annual offset will occur in 2012 -- 71 percent -- followed by 32 percent in 2013 and 16 percent in 2014.’ Given that Medicare’s open enrollment season begins in October, this report raises serious questions about whether the purpose of this demonstration was to mask the health spending law’s cuts to seniors’ Medicare benefits for political purposes.”

Asked about the failure of the health care law to shore up Medicare, Carney said “part of why it hasn’t worked yet is because Republicans in Congress refuse to accept the basic premise that we need to take a balanced approach to our deficit and debt reduction. They are out there telling the American people, through the Ryan Republican budget, that we need to dramatically cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans -- dramatically, and we will pay for that in large part by gutting discretionary spending programs, investments in education and innovation and basic research, in infrastructure, and by ending … Medicare as we know it.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar012011

New GAO Report Has One Senator Fuming: 'It Is All Congress' Fault'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With Congress currently embroiled in a contentious spending fight, the Government Accountability Office has found that a staggering level of duplication is plaguing the bloated federal budget, chewing up billions of dollars in funding every year and making at least one senator furious.

“Makes us look like jackasses,” Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla., told ABC News on Tuesday. “What would you think? You are paying men and women to come to Congress to be good stewards of the money and then you get a report out like this that says you are absolutely not good stewards of the money.”

In a new report obtained by ABC News, the GAO determined that “reducing or eliminating duplication, overlap, or fragmentation could potentially save billions of taxpayer dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services.”

Even when it comes to chickens and eggs, there's a tangle of redundant programs. It's almost embarrassing. Take the overlap between the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture: The FDA is responsible for ensuring eggs are "safe, wholesome and properly labeled."  The Department of Agriculture, too, is responsible for "eggs processed into egg products"

The Department of Agriculture is also responsible for the "health of young chicks" while the FDA oversees the safety of "the food they eat."  Got that?  All told, 15 separate agencies have responsibility for food safety.

In agency after agency, the report finds overlapping programs wasting billions of dollars and programs that are almost never assessed to see if they are working.

“We are mismanaged, misled and incompetent and the American public needs to hold us accountable,” Coburn said.

Need some more examples?  The report found 82 different programs with similar descriptions in 10 different agencies for roads and trains. 

Senator Coburn, who asked for the report, says it is an indictment of Congress, which ultimately creates all these programs.

“It is all Congress’ fault,” Coburn said. “This is an indictment [on] both Republicans and Democrats and on administrations run by both Republicans and Democrats not leading.”

Coburn says the report it all adds up to hundreds of billions in spending on overlapping programs and over a trillion dollars in waste over the course of a decade.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

Monday
Feb282011

Report: Duplication, Waste Costs Taxpayers Billions Each Year

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With Congress currently embroiled in a contentious spending fight, a congressional watchdog has found that a staggering level of duplication is plaguing the bloated federal budget -- and chewing up billions of dollars in funding every year.

In a new report obtained by ABC News, the Government Accountability Office determined that “reducing or eliminating duplication, overlap, or fragmentation could potentially save billions of taxpayer dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services.”

For instance, the GAO found, the Department of Defense could save up to $460 million every year by undertaking a “broader restructuring” of its military health care system.

The cost of such programs with duplicative and overlapping purposes is eye-opening. The military came in for special scrutiny: over $10 billion on defense-wide business systems every year; $49 billion in military and veterans health services; and at least $76 billion since 2005 in urgent processing systems for the military.

But the military is by no means alone. The Department of Transportation listed $58 billion dollars for over 100 separate surface transportation programs. And the Treasury Department listed almost $1 trillion in government-wide tax expenditures, some of which the GAO found “may be ineffective at achieving their social or economic purposes.”

“Considering the amount of program dollars involved in the issues we have identified, even limited adjustments could result in significant savings,” the GAO said.

According to the GAO, not only has Congress been busy spending money on duplicative efforts, but the government has neglected to investigate numerous programs, making the expenditure of some funds not only redundant but wasteful.

For instance, only five of 47 job training and employment programs surveyed by the GAO had been studied to evaluate whether outcomes were the result of the program itself or another cause altogether.

“Little is known about the effectiveness of most programs,” the watchdog observed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio ´╗┐







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