NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

GAO Rejects Gore's "Reinvention" Claims

August 18, 1999

Vice President Al Gore promised in 1993 that his program to reinvent government would save billions of dollars. The General Accounting Office now says that the Gore project double-counted savings, did not tally short-term costs involved in making long- term savings and did not retain enough documents to make a judgment possible on whether some savings were achieved.

The GAO reviewed recommendations made by Gore's National Performance Review -- now called the National Partnership for Reinventing Government -- for cost-cutting changes at the Agriculture Department, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Energy Department.

  • GAO found that $21.8 billion in claimed savings by Gore's project could not be documented or substantiated.
  • Double-counting led to inflated savings in at least two cases.
  • Estimates of savings did not take into account "offsetting costs" -- such as the expenses of giving numerous civil service employees up to $25,000 in cash "buyouts" to voluntarily quit their jobs, as well as other costs.
  • Gore took credit for savings which originated from other quarters of government -- specifically, actions to downsize some agencies taken by Congress.

Gore currently estimates his plans will save about $137 billion. But the GAO report concludes, "There was no way to substantiate the savings claimed."

Source: Stephan Barr, "Reexamining 'Reinventing,'" Washington Post, August 17, 1999; "NPR's Savings: Claimed Agency Savings Cannot All Be Attributed to NPR," GAO/GGD-99-120, July 23, 1999, General Accounting Office.


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