Administration faces uphill task in eliminating programs

By Amelia Gruber

February 7, 2005

President Bush's fiscal 2006 budget proposes to eliminate 150 federal programs, many of them on the grounds that they are not performing well. But history shows that convincing Congress to eliminate programs is far from easy.

When he unveiled President Bush's fiscal 2005 budget proposal in February 2004, Joshua Bolten, director of the Office of Management and Budget, entreated Congress to save $4.9 billion by slashing 65 federal programs. Of those, 13 ended up on the chopping block because they had received poor grades on the administration's Program Assessment Rating Tool.

At a minimum, the recommendations should have prompted lawmakers to ask tough questions about the struggling programs, says OMB's Robert Shea. That may have occurred, but in the end, Congress axed only one of the 13 programs. Many of them received roughly the same funding in 2004 and 2005, and two got increases in appropriations.

Program Mission Agency Most Recent Rating 2004 Funding (millions) 2005 Funding (millions)
Business Information Centers Federal grants to startups for technology and reference materials. Small Business Administration Results not demonstrated $14 $0
Small Business Innovation Research Program Competitive grants to encourage small business participation in federally funded research. Commerce Department Results not demonstrated $4 N/A*
Environmental Education Competitive grants to bolster environmental education programs. Environmental Protection Agency Results not demonstrated $9 $9
Even Start Block/formula grants to teach young children to read. Education Department Ineffective $247 $225
Federal Perkins Loans Loans to low-income students for post-secondary education. Education Department Ineffective $99 $66
HOPE VI Competitive grants to improve inner city public housing. Housing and Urban Development Department Ineffective $149 $144
Juvenile Accountability Block Grants Block/formula grants to upgrade state and local juvenile justice systems. Justice Department Ineffective $59 $54
Metropolitan Medical Response System Block/formula grants to help cities prepare for terrorist attacks. Homeland Security Department Results not demonstrated $50 $30
Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Competitive grants to help farmworkers and their families gain financial stability. Labor Department Ineffective $77 $78
Nuclear Energy Research Initiative Supports research to expand the use of nuclear energy. Energy Department Results not demonstrated $11 $2.5
State Criminal Alien Assistance Program Block/formula grants to partially reimburse states and localities for jailing criminal aliens. Justice Department Results not demonstrated $297 $301
Occupational and Employment Information Competitive grant program to broaden career choices considered by students. Education Department Results not demonstrated $9 $9
Tech-Prep Education State Grants Block/formula grants to help states bolster the number of degrees awarded in technical fields. Education Department Results not demonstrated $107 $106

* Federal law requires agencies with a research and development budget of $100 million or more to set aside funds for this program. OMB estimated that $4 million went into that pot in fiscal 2004, and has not yet calculated how much money will be set aside in fiscal 2005.

Source: OMB


By Amelia Gruber

February 7, 2005

http://www.govexec.com/management/2005/02/administration-faces-uphill-task-in-eliminating-programs/18510/