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Report: High-tech effort needed to catch wasteful spending

Dec. 15, 2011 - 06:00AM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
Earl Devaney, chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, is a member of the Government Accountability and Transparency Board.
Earl Devaney, chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, is a member of the Government Accountability and Transparency Board. (Tom Brown / Staff file photo)

The government should take a higher-tech, more centralized approach to tracking where taxpayer money goes, a presidentially-appointed panel said in a report released Wednesday.

The status quo "has become exceedingly large, complex and costly," the Government Accountability and Transparency Board said. "It is critical that the government begin the effort to integrate systems and eliminate the duplication, redundancies and inefficiencies that result from years of piecemeal efforts."

The board recommended creating a standardized system to assign identification numbers to grants, loans and other awards across the government. It also proposed expanding the use of investigative tools employed by the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board to head off wasteful and fraudulent spending.

The government's overall goal should be to tie spending and results, the board said. Without the ability to show money spent on programs, services and products actually produced results, "federal decision makers cannot ensure that public funds are being spent optimally," the report said.

President Obama created the 11-member board in July to come up with new strategies for stopping waste and shedding more light on government spending. The panel is headed by Earl Devaney, chairman of the recovery board, which was created in 2009 as watchdog on stimulus spending. Some of the board's proposals are not new. Devaney, for example, has pushed vigorously for the standard award ID system. In its report, the board acknowledged that its ideas will in some cases cost money and require legislative changes to become reality.

A newly-introduced House spending bill contains about $28 million for the recovery board to develop and test new ways to find and stop wasteful spending. http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/12/14/more-sunshine-less-fraud">In a blog post releasing the report, White House budget director Jack Lew did not detail any specific plans to follow up on the board's recommendations, but said that Obama will use them to "continue to push federal agencies to take bold steps in improving tracking and oversight of federal spending."

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