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Improving Oversight and Review of Federal Agencies

A Line-by-Line Approach to Getting More for Each Tax Dollar

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SOURCE: Center for American Progress

CAP Senior Fellow Scott Lilly testifies before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Read the testimony. (CAP Action)

Watch video of the testimony (Scott Lilly begins at 2:05)

There is no function in any organization that is more critical to its success than the intelligent allocation of resources. By far the biggest resource allocation process in the world is the massive effort that occurs each year in putting together the budget of the U.S. government. That budget touches the lives of every American in numerous ways. But in my judgment and the judgment of a good many other people who have spent their lives preparing, reviewing, negotiating, and enacting federal budgets, this budget process has deteriorated as an effective means of identifying low-performing programs, setting necessary priorities, and allocating resources.

While there are no clear metrics that measure whether or not deterioration has occurred, my research indicates that the perception of deterioration is widely shared by a wide range of participants in the federal budget process, including career civil servants at various levels of government and long-term staff who serve on congressional committees. My testimony today features not only my own impressions but those of a variety of career budget analysts who worry that the taxpayer is getting less for his money than he should.

Before detailing that research, however, let me get straight to the point. The consequences of this deterioration are severe. Critical programs are likely to be denied the resources necessary to achieve their objectives. Inferior, nonperforming, and wasteful programs continue to get funds that they either don’t need or can’t use effectively. In either case, the taxpayer gets less than he deserves or should expect.

CAP Senior Fellow Scott Lilly testifies before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Read the testimony. (CAP Action)

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