NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

GAO Report Censures Agencies For Waste

April 29, 1999

Federal agencies are losing billions of taxpayers' dollars due to waste and fraud, according to a General Accounting Office report.

Here are some of the primary culprits:

  • The Federal Aviation Administration wasted $1.5 billion in an attempt to modernize its computer operations.
  • Defense Department employees "inadvertently sold surplus parts with military technology intact" and did not have "receipts for about 60 percent of its 21 million shipments to end users in fiscal year 1997" -- while the Navy was singled out for writing off "as lost over $3 billion of in-transit inventory."
  • The Social Security's Supplemental Security Income program overpaid recipients $3.3 billion, including $1.2 billion in fiscal year 1998.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs paid an estimated $9 billion for fraudulent death and disability claims in 1998 -- and, by returning current claimants to work who are no longer disabled, could reduce future payments by $247 million.

Since 1990, the GAO has cited the Forestry Service, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Defense Department, and twice cited the Internal Revenue Service for having financial management problems. For years, the GAO has been hammering at the Pentagon -- which is accountable for roughly half the government's discretionary spending.

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), who oversees Defense as chairman of the "Results Caucus" -- a bipartisan group begun by the House Committee on Government Reform -- says the DOD is "too cumbersome" and called it "a bureaucratic nightmare."

Source: Barbara J. Saffir, "Mismanagement of Funds a Money Pit at Agencies," Washington Times, April 28, 1999.


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