Magazine article Insight on the News

More Words Falling on Deaf Ears

Magazine article Insight on the News

More Words Falling on Deaf Ears

Article excerpt

Saying that "projected surpluses do not absolve the government of its responsibility to make good use of taxpayers dollars," General Accounting Office, or GAO, head David Walker, during recent testimony before the Senate Budget Committee, indicated that the federal government -- despite what some may say -- still is a far cry from either being affordable, efficient or in any way "reinvented." Moreover, said Walker: "It shouldn't be insulting or threatening to any federal program or activity to question its relevance or `fit' in today's world."

For the benefit of those poised to embark on a new budget cycle, Walker rattled off a number of sensible changes that haven't been made in spite of all the reformist rhetoric being heard in the capital, including:

* The Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service, one of the last living relics of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, needs to restructure a lending program that has written off $5 billion in bad loans;

* The Department of Energy's four Power Marketing Administrations, which sell subsidized electricity generated by federally built dam projects, should be privatized;

* America's $400 million annual investment in international broadcasting efforts, including Voice of America, should be "reconsidered";

* The Government Printing Office's $100 million monopoly on government printing work should be open to competition from the private sector;

* Congress should consider a reorganization of the four major federal land-management agencies, "which have grown increasingly similar over time," according to Walker; and

* The health-care operations of the Department of Veterans' Affairs should be overhauled to reduce overlapping service and adapt to a dwindling demand. …

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