In May, we released our Terminations, Reductions, and Savings
volume. It put forward more than 120 cuts and reductions, totaling $17
billion, to programs that were duplicative, ineffective, or
outdated. At the time, cynics said that we’d never be able to eliminate
these programs – some of which had been around for decades. And it’s
true that every one of the programs has a supporter, and there have
been – and will continue to be – vocal and powerful interests that
oppose almost any budget cut.
But with the 2010 appropriations process now over, the Washington Times
ran the numbers and came away impressed with what the Administration
was able to accomplish: "President Obama notched substantial successes
in spending cuts last year, winning 60 percent of his proposed cuts and
managing to get Congress to ax several programs that bedeviled
President George W. Bush for years."
Citing data from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the
newspaper noted that the 60 percent success rate was better than the
prior administration’s best year (40 percent in Fiscal Year 2006), and
well ahead of the under 15 percent success rate in 2007 and 2008.
I'm proud of what we were able to accomplish in conjunction with the
Congress, but it's just a start in what we need to do to streamline
programs that work, end those that don’t, and make government more
efficient and effective. That’s why this fall we ran the SAVE Award
contest, receiving more than 38,000 ideas from frontline workers on how
to save money. We undertook contracting reforms that will save $19
billion this year, and $40 billion by next year. We’ve put forward an
ambitious effort to reduce the $100 billion in improper payments –
money that the government pays out by mistake – each year. And we
initiated a rigorous process of evaluating program effectiveness –
including funding whole new studies – so that we can find out what
works and what doesn’t, and make budget decisions accordingly.
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In a few weeks, we will release the President’s Fiscal Year 2011
Budget. There will be more proposals for terminations, and we will hear
the complaints from the special interests. But programs that are
unnecessary, duplicative, or ineffective should not continue, and we
look forward to building on the successes from last year in ending
programs that don’t make sense.
Peter Orszag is Director of the Office of Management and Budget