$18 billion spent in redundant government programs

In his State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama declared his administration would work diligently to cut federal government waste. For reducing duplicative programs, specifically, the president said he would “develop a proposal to merge, consolidate, and reorganize the federal government in a way that best serves the goal of a more competitive America.” Every week we at Bankrupting America highlight examples of waste around the nation, but today’s example, below, provides a perfect place for the administration to start in advancing this goal.

The USA Today reported on the redundant job training programs within the federal government. This bureaucratic blunder is exactly what needs to be merged, consolidated and reorganized.

The federal government spends $18 billion a year on 47 separate job training programs run by nine different agencies.

All but three programs overlap with others to provide the same services to the same population, according to a government report to be released today.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that “little is known about the effectiveness” of the programs because half haven’t had a performance review since 2004 and only five have ever had a study to determine whether job seekers in the program do better than those who don’t participate.

“Here’s just one example of how we’re spending $18 billion, and we don’t have any idea of whether it’s working or not,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who requested the report with Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. “This thing is so big and so out of control.”

Managing that patchwork of federal programs is a network of 575 business-led local workforce boards running 1,300 one-stop job centers.

An overhaul of job training isn’t on the horizon, but Obama’s proposed budget last year would have cut five smaller programs, said a spokeswoman for the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. Congress never acted. [Note: Congress never even passed a budget last year.]

In a statement to USA TODAY, Assistant Secretary of Labor Jane Oates defended the system, saying “diverse elements and multiple suppliers” help local workforce boards tailor assistance to the needs of job seekers and businesses.

[But she conceded that the] report was “a timely reminder that more work can be done” to reduce costs and improve efficiency.

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