Budget Officials: Across-the-Board Cuts Are the ‘Lazy’ Way Out

larry1235/Shutterstock.com

Federal budget officials are turning against across-the-board spending cuts in favor of a more refined approach, a new survey finds.

Only 8 percent of respondents to a 2013 survey of federal budget professionals conducted by the American Association for Budget and Program Analysis and Grant Thornton said they would prefer to achieve spending reductions by making broad cuts and protecting all their programs. Another 14 percent said they supported across-the-board cuts but would chop some programs more than others.

In contrast to a similar 2011 survey, however, a majority of budget officials indicated they would opt for a more targeted strategy. Fifty-four percent said they “try to consider program priorities when we allocate our cuts,” and 24 percent said their agencies would “better serve our stakeholders by doing fewer activities but doing them well.”

Participants used “words like ‘stupid,’ ‘coward’s way out’ and ‘lazy analyst’ to describe across-the-board cuts,” the report on the survey results stated. “The respondents’ comments were fairly uniform, with many of them declaring they need the ability to eliminate entire programs.”

In 2011, “more respondents said they would prefer to reduce many activities rather than to eliminate a few,” the authors noted.

The online survey -- which drew 145 responses, mostly from executive branch officials – depicted a budget workforce trying to engage in longer-term planning while constrained by uncertainty surrounding appropriations levels. Despite sequestration, continuing resolutions and persistent shutdown threats (this survey was nearly complete before the 16-day October shutdown), only 10 percent of respondents said they were focused solely on “making it through the year,” but 82 percent acknowledged that budget analysis suffers when officials “have to contend with the crisis du jour.” 

Many participants also said it would be hard, if not impossible, to find further cuts. Asked how they would adhere to Office of Management and Budget guidance directing them to reduce their fiscal 2015 budget submissions by 10 percent over previous estimates, 28 percent said “after all of our other reductions, there is nothing left to cut.” Another 39 percent said it would be “difficult but doable.” Only 15 percent indicated the task would be relatively easy.

“Constrained by funding and politics, agencies have forced [budget professionals] to become masters of the Band-Aid solution – finding the quick, low-cost fix that pushes challenges into the future rather than solving them in the present,” the report concluded. “They are often frustrated and sometimes angry at the state of the budget process today.” 

(Image via larry1235/Shutterstock.com)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.