House Blue Dogs propose commission to kill programs

The commission would review each federal program to determine its merits and usefulness

House members have proposed creating a bipartisan board to review all federal programs to decide which should be killed.

Rep. Glenn Nye (D-Va.) and 29 other Democrats introduced the Stop Waste by Eliminating Excessive Programs Act (H.R. 5568), on June 22. The sponsors are all members of the Blue Dog Coalition, which  tries to stop government waste.

The Federal Program Sunset Commission would review each federal program to determine its merit in proven outcomes, its cost-effective record, the scope of interest, and whether another program receives funding for the same purpose.


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House passes bill to improve program performance

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The commission would report its findings to Congress each year with recommendations on whether each program should be ended, according to the bill. When it determined a program should end, the commission would draft fast-track legislation to shut down the program. The bill also attempts to limit changes to the draft bill and would allow only limited debate with an up-or-down vote on the recommendation.

In addition, the bill also would require Congress to limit budget authority for each program for as much as 10 years.

The coalition found that in fiscal 2010 Congress appropriated roughly $290 billion for unauthorized programs and activities, and an additional $730 billion for programs and activities are scheduled to expire on or before September 30, based on the Congressional Budget Office's figures.

The SWEEP Act is another proposal to cut waste, as the House has approved similar bills and the Obama administration has started its own efforts.

On June 16, the House has passed the Government Efficiency, Effectiveness and Performance Improvement Act (H.R. 2142), a bill to boost the importance of program assessments in statute to make the government work better.

In the same vein, on June 8, senior Obama administration officials charged all agencies with the task of hunting down wasteful spending and cut out 5 percent of their discretionary budget for fiscal 2012. It wants the money to come from duplicative programs or programs that are not useful in reaching an agency’s mission.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

Reader Comments

Mon, Jun 28, 2010

StratML ... another bogus SOA idea... enough with the bogus SOA junk. Just take out the garbage.

Fri, Jun 25, 2010 Owen Ambur Silver Spring, MD

Congress should also direct agencies to use StratML to comply with the provisions of paragraphs 202(b)(4) & (5) of the eGov Act, which require agencies to work together to link their performance goals to key groups, including citizens, businesses, and other governments, as well as internal Federal Government operations. Any programmitic expenditure that has not been explicitly linked to a key stakeholder group should be a candidate for elimination, and multiple programs serving the same stakeholders should be scrutinized for redundancy.

Fri, Jun 25, 2010 Owen Ambur Silver Spring, MD

A good first step in support of the purpose of this legislation would be for Congress to require agencies to post their strategic plans on the Web in Strategy Markup Language (StratML) format. Doing so would facilitate the identification of programs that are pursuing common objectives. The purposes of the StratML standard (ANSI/AIIM 21:2009) are outlined at http://xml.gov/stratml/index.htm#DefinitionPurposes

Fri, Jun 25, 2010 Dave

Until the People and the States demand that Congress limit the Federal Government to those functions defined in the Constitution, all such attempts to save money by cutting waste amount to rearranging deck chairs on a sinking ship. It shows activity, but doesn't matter at all!

Fri, Jun 25, 2010

"The commission would report its findings to Congress each year with recommendations on whether each program should be ended, according to the bill. When it determined a program should end, the commission would draft fast-track legislation to shut down the program." "The coalition found that in fiscal 2010 Congress appropriated roughly $290 billion for unauthorized programs and activities, and an additional $730 billion for programs and activities are scheduled to expire on or before September 30, based on Congressional Budget Office's figures." --The problem is Congress, this is another situation of the fox watching the hen house. Until each program has a sunset provision and no amendments to the program are allowed, will the problem be solved. First priority and where greatest expenses and/or wastes are is entitlement programs. Until they are thoroughly reviewed, scrutinized, and modifications made will problem be solved. Second priority set a threshold on cost overruns. Payment will only be allowed on set threshold with no modifications.

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