We Can Cut up to $400 Billion from the Budget Over the Next 10 Years by Buying Smarter

This is the latest in a weekly series from CAP's Doing What Works team showing how we can make smart budget cuts that boost government efficiency, not gut essential services.

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Congress can cut between $25 billion and $54 billion a year from the federal budget by changing the way it buys and manages goods and services. The cost-saving strategies below have been proven to work in the private and public sectors. Taken together, they represent a fundamental overhaul of how the federal government plans, coordinates, and monitors its purchasing activities.

We can avoid wasteful spending through better procurement planning

  • The government should regularly assess its needs so it doesn’t buy too much.
  • It should generally buy "off the shelf" products instead of expensive custom-made ones.
  • Officials must coordinate their purchases across government to get volume discounts and negotiate better deals. We can cut costs through smarter negotiation and contract management.
  • We must eliminate bureaucratic hurdles to attract more bidders and increase competition.
  • We must better train procurement officials, so they are skilled negotiators with extensive knowledge of bidders and the costs associated with products and services.
  • We must keep pushing for cost savings even after a contract is signed.

We can save more than $1 billion a year by ramping up contract auditing

  • Every federal dollar spent on procurement auditing saves the government more than $5, according to the Defense Contract Audit Agency.
  • And yet even as federal procurement spending more than doubled over the past decade, the number of full-time contract auditors rose by less than 20 percent.
  • The audit agency’s annual budget should be increased to $840 million to match the growth in procurement spending. This will generate net savings of more than $1 billion.

John Griffith is a Research Associate with the Doing What Works project at American Progress.

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John Griffith

Policy Analyst

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