Thursday, May 27, 2010

And the "You Cut" Week 2 Winner Is:

Eliminate the Proposed Federal Employee Pay Raise

Approximately $2 Billion in the First Year

(Approximately $30 Billion Over Ten Years)

As part of his budget, President Obama proposed providing federal civilian employees with a 1.4% pay raise next year. This year Federal employees received a 2% raise and since the year 2000 have received raises averaging 3.6% a year. USA Today recently reported that the typical federal worker is paid 20% more than a private-sector worker in the same occupation (median salary). This doesn’t include the value of benefits like health care and retirement. This proposal would expand upon the just enacted legislation to prevent Members of Congress from receiving a pay raise. This proposal would not impact the scheduled 1.4% pay raise for those in the military.

Week 3
Refocus National Archives Activities On Preserving Federal Records

$10 million in Savings in the First Year

($100 Million Over Ten Years)

The National Archives and Records Administration and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission are charged with managing Federal records. However, they also spend approximately $10 million a year on grants for state and local governments, universities and other institutions to preserve and publish non-Federal records. While a worthwhile goal, the federal government also spends $167.5 million a year on the National Endowment for the Humanities and $282 million for the Institute for Museum and Library Services which can and sometimes do fund projects towards similar ends. Refocusing the National Archives on its core mission of preserving Federal records would save taxpayers $10 million next year and $100 million over ten years.

Reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Savings estimated at $30 billion.

Since taking over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government sponsored mortgage-backing companies, taxpayers have injected over $145 billion into the two companies. Yet Congress still has not considered proposals to reform these companies and recoup taxpayer funds. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that absent reform, costs to taxpayer will continue to grow. Taking action to reform these companies now (as opposed to delaying action as some have proposed) by ending their government conservatorship, shrinking their portfolios, establishing minimum capital standards, and bringing transparency to taxpayer exposure could generate savings of up to an estimated $30 billion.

Terminate Broadcasting Facility Grant Programs that Have Completed their Mission

$25 million in Savings in the First Year

($250 million Over Ten Years)

In his most recent budget, President Obama proposed terminating the Public Broadcasting Grants at the Department of Agriculture and the Public Telecommunications Facilities Grants Program at the Department of Commerce. The president's budget justified terminating these programs, noting that: "Since 2004, the USDA Public Broadcasting Grants program has provided grants to support rural public television stations’ conversion to digital broadcasting. Digital conversion efforts mandated by the Federal Communications Commission are now largely complete, and there is no further need for this program." ...additionally: "Since 2000, most PTFP awards have supported public television stations' conversion to digital broadcasting. The digital television transition was completed in 2009, and there is no further need for DOC’s program."

Reduce Spending on Non-Essential and Questionable Research

$3.8 Million in Savings in the First Year

Since passage of the stimulus bill in February of 2009, watchdogs and media outlets have identified countless examples of wasteful, unnecessarily duplicative, and outrageous expenditures. Unfortunately, most of these expenditures only come to light after the money has been spent. This is particularly true in the area of research grants. Examples of grants made with stimulus funds about which questions have been raised after the grant was awarded include: a study on why young adults use malt liquor and marijuana in combination ($389,357); the impact of alcohol on the “hookup” behavior of female college coeds ($219,000); studying whether mice become disoriented when they consume alcohol ($8,408); developing a program for "machine-generated humor" ($712,883); studying methamphetamines and the female rat sex drive ($28,900); studying the tension between privacy and features in online social networks like Facebook ($498,000); testing how to control private home appliances in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts from an off-site computer ($787,250); developing the next generation of football gloves ($150,000); examining the division of labor in ant colonies ($950,000); and studying the Icelandic Arctic environment in the Viking Age ($94,902). While we cannot recapture money that has already been spent, this proposal would reduce funding dollar-for-dollar at each agency that approved the grants described above.

Consolidate and Reduce Funding for Federal Advisory Committees

$34 million in Savings in the First Year

($170 Million Over Five Years)

In 2008, the Federal government spent $342 million on 917 active Federal Advisory Committees. These committees had nearly 64,000 total members. Many of these committees are duplicative. For example, the National Endowment for the Arts spent $1.3 million on two separate advisory panels, both of which makes recommendations to the NEA chairman. At the U.S. Geological Survey, the Scientific Earthquake Studies Advisory Committee actually recommended the creation of the National Earthquake Prediction Council. Now taxpayers fund both committees at a cost of nearly $200,000 a year. These earthquake committees are in addition to a third committee run by the Department of Commerce that costs taxpayers another $43,000. In 2005, the Department of Interior even created an advisory committee to advise it on dog management at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Three years later, this committee cost taxpayers $41,000. Consolidating existing advisory committees and with a goal of reducing overall funding by 10% would save taxpayers $34 million next year and $170 million over five years.
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