NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

House Cleaning

March 26, 1996

Republican reforms in the House of Representatives have gone a long way toward sweeping away 205 years of "tradition-bound stagnation," according to management consultants.

When Price Waterhouse conducted a first-ever audit of the House last year, it found "one of the worst-run organizations ever reviewed in the history of the company."

  • Financial records were a mess, kept in ledger books little changed from the days of the Continental Congress.
  • The House Finance Office -- which oversees pay, benefits and expenses -- had no certified public accountants on staff, despite an $800 million annual budget.
  • Financial records were missing or incomplete.

But following GOP reforms, here is how the situation has improved:

  • The nonlegislative budget has been reduced from $800 million in the 103rd Congress to $671 million for the current 104th Congress.
  • Administrative costs have been shaved 33 percent -- from $69 million to $46 million.
  • For 1,100 personnel, 12 layers of management were in place -- compared to 600 employees under only two layers of management today.
  • The House-operated Printing Office and Folding Room have been abolished.

Moreover, the barber shop, beauty parlor, shoeshine and mail services have all been privatized.

The former system was one of political patronage, exemplified in the House Folding Room.

  • Formerly, for every 1,000 pieces of mail folded and stuffed in the House Folding Room, taxpayers spent $480.
  • Under a contract with Pitney Bowes, the cost is now $14.
  • The office was staffed to handle two million pieces of mail a day, when 500,000 pieces a month was normal.
  • Closing it down saves $2.6 million a year.

Professionals involved in the reforms say it will be another year before true efficiency is achieved.

Source: Jeff A. Taylor, "The Republican House-Cleaning," Investor's Business Daily, March 26, 1996.


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