- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
- Tea Party Patriots call key GOP firing a declaration of war
Watchdogs headed for heavy budget cuts
Operation changes could be ‘significant’
Question of the Day
The automatic spending cuts looming at the first of next year might end up eliminating some waste, but they also will take a giant bite out of the waste-watchers themselves — the auditors whom taxpayers count on to weed out fraud and keep tabs on government money.
The cuts also will slash through the agencies that watch Wall Street, protect workers’ rights, combat discrimination and otherwise patrol American businesses. These watchdog agencies stand to lose nearly half a billion dollars from staff and operations budgets, eating into their ability to do the work Congress has asked them to do.
Nearly every federal department or agency has an inspector general tasked with rooting out waste, and collectively, those auditors would lose $148 million under the cuts scheduled to take effect on Jan. 2, according to a preliminary estimate last week from the White House budget office.
Some watchdogs said the cuts could mean “significant” changes to their operations, while others said it was still too early to say how their missions will suffer.
But waste-watchers said whatever the specific impact, it’s a bad idea to put watchdogs such as inspector general agencies on the same chopping block as the rest of government, since the watchdogs are the ones who help keep the bureaucracy from wasting even more money.
“Cutting IG budgets by the same amount as wasteful spending identified by IGs makes no sense. No family or individual American would manage their finances that way,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, who culls federal spending trying to identify waste.
Indeed, auditors end up paying for their work many times over.
And in a broad report last year, GAO looked at federal IGs and found they had a return on investment of $18 for every dollar spent in 2009 — $43.3 billion in possible savings on combined budgets of $2.3 billion.
Inspectors general also have policing powers, and their work led to 6,100 indictments in 2009, GAO said.
The cuts, known as “sequesters” in budget-speak, total $109 billion in 2013 and are split between defense and domestic spending.
There are some exemptions, including military personnel and Social Security and Medicare benefits, but for the rest of government, the cuts are applied across the board, which is why the watchdogs stand to lose as much as others.
The Defense Department’s inspector general would take the biggest hit, both in dollar amount and percentage: It will lose 9.4 percent of its budget, or $34 million.
That’s a major blow to a watchdog that already has said it is understaffed and cannot complete a full audit of the Pentagon.
The Defense IG’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment Wednesday, but those who keep track of the auditor said cuts will be a blow to an agency that already is feeling overwhelmed.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Stephen Dinan can be reached at email@example.com.
- Federal deficit shrinks 20 percent in fiscal 2014
- Wind farms: Interior Department sacrifices eagle protection for alternative energy
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- Bipartisan House votes against 'patent trolls' who file lawsuits against innovators
- Bipartisan House votes to stop patent 'trolls'
Latest Blog Entries
By Matt Kibbe
The short-term deal will assure long-term overspending
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- N. Korean news agency: Kim Jong Un's uncle executed
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
- White House improvises again on patchy Obamacare rollout
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- Jane Fonda Foundation fails to make single contribution in 5 years: report
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Chef Mary Moran discusses the food we eat, where it comes from and what it does for us.
An informed and often humorous take on the world of advertising, public relations and social media. 100% Pure. Not from concentrate.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow