“Americans love lists,” Sen. Joe Lieberman told reporters yesterday as he and other members of Congress gathered at a news conference to discuss the Government Accountability Office’s “High Risk” list — a group of programs that are susceptible to waste, fraud and abuse.
That list, Lieberman noted, isn’t one you want to be on if you’re a federal worker. It chronicles 30 government programs, many of which have been on the list for a long time, that are at high risk for waste and will help provide a “roadmap” for Congressional oversight in the coming months.
“It’s a critically important list,” Lieberman said of the report. “And it’s extra important in this session as we are faced with this enormous challenge of dealing with our fiscal imbalance, the annual deficit of more than a trillion dollars and that accumulative national debt of over 14 trillion or about 14 trillion now.”
Two programs that were removed from the list — the Census and the Defense Department’s personal security clearance program — because of “sufficient progress in addressing past vulnerabilities,” said a GAO press release.
But Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said the Census should have stayed on the list, even though the next Census doesn’t start for another nine years.
“Were I compiling this list I would put the 2020 Census on the list right now,” Collins said. “Given the amount of money that was wasted — the hundreds of millions of dollars that was wasted on failed IT projects — I think it’s absolutely essential that we take a close look at the plans for the 2020 Census to try to avoid some of the waste that occurred.”
House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), who is holding hearings on government waste this morning, said that he was disappointed by how many government programs were on the list.
“Today as we look at this list, I think all of us… have to be committed that it be more than just the change doesn’t seem to be working but in fact vigorous oversight and assistance on plans for change in each of the agencies listed here today — even if they’ve recently changed their name, even if they’re quote ‘new and improved,’ we have an obligation to ensure we receive plans you can believe in, that have times and accomplishments we can check on a quarterly basis,” Issa said.
The only program added to the list was the Interior Department’s management of oil and natural gas resources. The 177-page GAO report notes that GAO has made recommendations to the Interior Department on managing oil and gas resources, but said that, as of December 2010, many recommendations remain unimplemented.
“The high-risk list released [Wednesday] by the Government Accountability Office reflects and underscores the importance of the aggressive and comprehensive regulatory reform efforts currently underway in the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) and makes abundantly clear the critical need for resources to effectively implement those reforms,” BOEMRE spokesman Melissa Schwartz told TPM in a statement.