Forbes: Trump’s New War On Wasteful Spending - An Advance Draft Of The President’s Budget To Congress - FY2021 26_Presidents_Budget

February 6, 2020 05:00 PM






By Adam Andrzejewski

President Donald Trump is taking action to declare war on waste.


This week, we reviewed an advance copy of the President’s Budget FY2021 that will be submitted to Congress on Monday, February 10th. The president’s budget includes a bold and detailed chapter on curbing waste, fraud, corruption, and taxpayer abuse.


… [a] bloated Federal Government, with duplicative programs and wasteful spending, remains a critical threat to America’s future.

President’s Budget FY2021 | Chapter: Stopping Wasteful And Unnecessary Spending, page 13


Our organization at has advocated these goals from the pages of The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. With the national debt standing at $23.2 trillion and annual budget deficits of over $1 trillion, we applaud the president for starting a war on waste.


Here are just three of the non-partisan reforms the president will highlight in his FY2021 budget to Congress:


  1. End Improper Year-End Waste. The federal government’s use-it-or-lose-it year-end spending spree has been going on for years. In our recent oversight report, we found $97 billion spent by 67 federal agencies during the final month of fiscal year 2018. In the last week of the fiscal year, $53 billion in contracts went out the door – that’s one in every ten dollars spent in the entire year.


[T]here are currently misaligned incentives... Agencies recognize that if significant balances are left in their accounts at the end of a fiscal year, the Congress will likely reduce their topline budget in future fiscal years.

President’s Budget FY2021 | Chapter: Stopping Wasteful And Unnecessary Spending, page 17


The year-end spending spree purchases included:


  • Inflatable games ($42,500), model rockets ($34,000), china tableware ($53,004), alcohol ($308,994), musical instruments ($1.7 million), workout equipment ($9.8 million) and lobster tail and crab ($4.6 million).
  • $300 million spent on passenger vehicles, trucks, motorcycles, scooters, and snowmobiles.
  • $462 million spent on public relations, marketing research, and advertising.
  • $491 million spent on furniture and redecorating federal agencies.
  • $61.2 billion spent by the Pentagon in the final 30-days of the fiscal year.


Last fall, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced legislation to stop the spending spree (S.1238) — billion dollar binge buying is no way to budget. Now, the president has embraced the issue and his budget cites our work.



2. Putting an End to Improper Payments. Each year, the twenty largest federal agencies admit to mistakenly paying out approximately $140 billion. For example, we found that nearly $1 billion was improperly paid to dead people. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) improperly paid $18.4 billion through the earned income tax program last year.


Since 2005, we found the federal government has improperly paid $1.2 trillion from the U.S. Treasury.


This agenda is focused on new strategies to reduce monetary loss because protecting taxpayer money and making sure it is serving is intended purpose is a fundamental responsibility...

President’s Budget FY2021 | Chapter: Stopping Wasteful And Unnecessary Spending, page 16


Other improper payments last year included:


  •     Social Security recipients were overpaid by $10 billion. Six million active Social Security numbers belong to people aged 112 and older. However, there are only 40 people in the entire world aged 112 and over.
  •     Medicare & Medicaid improperly paid $85 billion in benefits with over-payments amounting to $67 billion. Administered by HHS, Medicaid admits to overpaying recipients $36 billion. Medicare admits to $31 billion in over-payments.


3. Conducting Oversight of Spending. The Trump administration has already eliminated 31,000 duplicate contracts, saving taxpayers $27 billion since 2017. In the budget, they commit to doing more including comparison shopping, volume discounts, and negotiating better deals.


Federal agencies have traditionally purchased goods and services in a fragmented manner, depriving taxpayers of the benefits of the U.S. Government’s position as the largest buyer in the world.

President’s Budget FY2021 | Chapter: Stopping Wasteful And Unnecessary Spending, page 17


We found that federal waste is a target rich environment. Here are some examples:


  •     NASA’s grounded moon rocket has a $3 billion cost overrun, and the agency spent $1.1 million to “prepare the nations religions for the discovery of extraterrestrial life.”
  •     The Air Force bought $1,200 coffee cups while spending up to $350,000 on the purchases.
  •     The U.S. Census has a cost overrun of $3.3 billion.
  •     Taxpayers funded nearly $20 million for the airport at Martha’s Vineyard.


The president is also targeting duplication and programs that lack federal mandate. Former U.S. Senator Dr. Tom Coburn (R-OK) spearheaded legislation ten years ago to require the U.S. Government Accountability Office to report overlap, duplication, and fragmentation in Federal programs.



While we laud the president’s new war on waste, we encourage him to open new fronts. It’s time the president embraced the full Transparency Revolution.


We advocate a four-point strategy:

  1. Open the books with aggressive real-time transparency.
  2. Audit and cut the waste – we suggest a five-percent cut to discretionary spending as a first step.
  3. Reward bureaucrats who cut their budgets.
  4. Report the progress to the American people.


Wasteful spending is a bipartisan problem.


Patronage Republicans in Congress have a history of joining Democrats to drain the U.S. Treasury from the left. If the president is going to have credibility in the fight against socialism, he cannot be seen as draining the treasury from the right.


America needs a fiscal superhero. President Trump’s budget sends an important signal he’s gearing up for a fight.  

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