WASHINGTON, D.C. | April 6, 2011
Good morning and welcome. I’d like to thank the U.S. Comptroller General, Mr. Gene Dodaro, for joining us today as we shed light on wasteful federal government spending. Your time is valuable and we appreciate the opportunity to get your thoughts on duplicative teacher and workforce training programs.
At a time when our nation faces a historic fiscal crisis, we must make a concerted effort to reduce federal spending. A necessary step in this process is to eliminate and streamline federal programs. Now more than ever, it is critical to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.
Thanks to the work of Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and the Government Accountability Office, we have recently learned of massive amounts of waste and duplication within federal programs. According to the March 2011 report, billions of dollars are being squandered on redundant programs. As our nation continues to borrow 40 cents of every dollar spent, this misuse of taxpayer funds is unacceptable.
This committee is particularly concerned about the 82 individual teacher quality programs and the 47 separate job training programs detailed in the report. We all recognize the importance of placing more qualified and better prepared individuals in our schools and workplaces. This will help provide our children with a quality education and keep our nation competitive in the global economy. But the magnitude of duplication and overlap among the programs listed in the GAO report is counterproductive to the achievement of these fundamental goals.
Of the 82 distinct programs focused on improving teacher quality, several aren’t administered by the Department of Education. Ten separate agencies are responsible for overseeing various teacher quality programs, including the Departments of Defense, Interior, State, Agriculture, and Energy. In 2009, $4 billion in taxpayer funds was dedicated to improving teacher quality. Instead of instituting a government-wide strategy to ensure these funds were being used wisely and effectively, communication between agencies was limited and programs continued to be implemented without coordination or concern about existing initiatives. As a result of this fragmented process, taxpayer dollars were wasted and student achievement saw little improvement.
Nine federal agencies, including the Departments of Labor, Education, Health and Human Services, Interior, Agriculture, Defense, Justice and Veterans Affairs, are currently responsible for implementing 47 different employment and job training programs that cost the taxpayers approximately $18 billion in 2009. Forty-four of the 47 programs overlap with at least one other program. In fact, many of the programs provide the same services to the same populations through separate administrative structures. This lack of coordination – in workforce training programs and teacher quality programs – is irresponsible, wasteful, and careless.
We must act now to return fiscal sanity to Washington, D.C. This report illustrates considerable opportunities to cut federal spending and consolidate wasteful government programs. If we allow taxpayer funds to be wasted and federal spending to continue unchecked, we are putting our children in a more precarious position and risking the future stability of our country.
We all have a responsibility to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars and make the tough choices necessary to streamline federal programs within this committee’s jurisdiction. A failure to act when confronted with such compelling evidence of waste would be indefensible.