Budget office kicks off ‘war on waste’

Budget office kicks off ‘war on waste’
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The White House budget office on Thursday kicked off the administration’s “war on waste," eliminating reports and requirements in an effort to set an example for other government agencies.

“Government may do a decent job of looking forward, but we do a lousy job of cleaning out the closet,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said.

Over time, Mulvaney said, government agencies build up an unruly list of reporting requirements and regulations that are seldom addressed.

His office went through 253 guidance and policy documents and decided to pull 59 of them, including an ongoing reporting requirement on the Y2K bug and a report on a completed Bush-era e-government program.

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“Some are duplicative, some or obsolete, some are just finding a different methodology,” said Linda Springer, a senior adviser to Mulvaney.

The housecleaning exercise, which the administration is asking every office and agency to carry out, is “phase 1” of a plan to increase government efficiency.

The next phase will kick off on June 30, when agency heads will publish a list of ongoing onerous statutory reports and requirements they are required to write, and ask Congress to consider repealing them.

Mulvaney said he thinks that Congress will be happy to get rid of many of the requirements for reports it no longer uses or reads. If information is still of value to a particular member, he added, there would be no problem keeping the requirement as long as there is a decision to do so.

“I was on the committee that oversaw this and I had no clue” how many onerous requirements had built up, said Mulvaney, a former member of Congress.

When agencies turn over their budget requests for 2019 in September, they will also be expected to provide a reorganization plan. By February 2018, the White House plans on presenting a broader government reorganization plan alongside its budget request.

The outcome, which could result in fewer large agencies or more small agencies, is among the administration’s highest priorities.

“I believe I’ve talked to the Cabinet secretaries more about the reorganization than about the budget,” Mulvaney said.