High-Risk Programs Get Mentors

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Like at-risk teen-agers in need of guidance, 12 federal operations on the General Accounting Office's list of programs at "high risk" of waste, fraud and mismanagement will receive congressional mentors to help them improve.

Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, Friday announced a new caucus to tackle management problems throughout the federal bureaucracy. The members of Congress who have volunteered for the Results Caucus, which takes its name from the 1993 Government Performance and Results Act, have each chosen one of the federal programs on GAO's high-risk list. GAO compiles its high-risk list annually, selecting federal programs that it determines are the most wasteful or have the most potential for waste, fraud, or mismanagement. The caucus's goal is to get federal programs off GAO's list by working with agencies to solve their management problems. So far, eight members of Congress have volunteered to mentor managers in troubled agencies.

"The mission of the Results Caucus is to take longstanding problems in the federal government, find out why they haven't been corrected, and work with all available resources in Congress and the administration to get these problems solved," Sessions said.

Sessions said House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, chose him to head up the Results Caucus because of his private sector "expertise to solve many of the problems that plague the federal government." Sessions will be working with the Defense Department to improve its inventory management. GAO charges that the department could save billions of dollars every year if it reduced its inventory of supplies.

Rep. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark., has agreed to push the National Weather Service to get its modernization efforts working properly. In addition, Hutchinson said the agency must reduce its staff by 21 percent, as originally envisioned in the agency's modernization plan. The weather service has scaled back its staff reduction goal to 8 percent.

Other mentor-agency matchings include:

  • Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, working with NASA on contract management.
  • Rep. Jon Fox, R-Pa., and Rep. Pat Danner, D-Mo., working with the Federal Aviation Administration on air traffic control modernization.
  • Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., and Rep. Bill Jefferson, D-La., working with the Social Security Administration on fraud in the supplemental security income program.
  • Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., working with the Office of Management and Budget to improve information security governmentwide.

Sessions is working on recruiting members to take on Energy Department contract management, student financial aid, Customs Service financial management, asset forfeiture programs, farm loan programs, and Medicare.

Asked whether Congress would use the appropriations process to punish agencies if they don't cooperate with the Results Caucus, Sessions said he doesn't believe budgetary threats accomplish much.

"Light of day is the best disinfectant," he said.

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