Outgoing OMB chief: Public has a point about government waste

In his farewell address on Wednesday, the director of the Office of Management and Budget said the public is onto something when it criticizes the federal bureaucracy.

OMB chief Peter R. Orszag, whose last day is Friday, told an audience at the Brookings Institution that citizens often are correct when they say federal agencies are inefficient and wasteful in managing programs. He noted two-thirds of respondents to an April Pew Center poll shared that belief.

Government inefficiency can be attributed largely to agencies' failure to adopt technology quickly and to use practices that make the private sector successful, Orszag said. The Obama administration's efforts to remedy outdated and unsuccessful government programs are expected to yield $20 billion in savings in fiscal 2011, he said.

For example, taxpayers will benefit from the replacement of expensive naval ship navigation systems with cost-efficient Global Positioning Systems, according to Orszag. The administration also is identifying excess government property and making plans to dispose of it, which is expected to result in savings of $8 billion by fiscal 2012, he said. And for fiscal 2012 budget submissions, agencies will be required to point out their most inefficient and unsuccessful programs.

Addressing improper government payments is another priority, the departing OMB chief said, noting President Obama signed the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act into law last week. Orszag said during the past three years the government paid out $180 million to dead Americans. "I wish I was kidding," he said.

On a more optimistic note, he said there have been some success stories. The Agriculture Department's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (or food stamps) program, for instance, has identified $330 million in payment errors.

Bringing the federal government up to speed on technology also is high on the administration's agenda, Orszag said. In addition to making government more efficient, information technology helps make agency actions more transparent for the American people, he noted, saying new dashboards and websites have led to greater levels of openness than ever before. The administration has cut more than $10 million in redundant IT projects, he added.

Orszag also addressed some policy victories, including passage of health care reform and the 2009 Recovery and Reinvestment Act. He added it would have been nearly impossible secure any more than $787 billion for the economic stimulus.

He said he will leave office "confident in the president and his team." President Obama has nominated Jacob Lew, deputy secretary of State for management and resources and former OMB director during the Clinton administration, to take over for Orszag.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
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)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


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