U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, has introduced a bill that would create a 15-member panel to "reduce duplicative services and root out waste in government."
The panel would be tasked with developing proposals to act on recommendations from a U.S. Government Accountability Office report that highlighted dozens of programs similar in nature and could be consolidated to save money.
Among the findings of the report, released in 2011, was that the federal government has 44 overlapping job training programs and 80 programs for economic development across a number of different agencies.The report also highlighted administrative and management offices in the Department of Defense that could be consolidated.
The Government Waste Reduction Act of 2013 is the first bill introduced by Rep. Bustos since she took office last month. In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, she said she was seeking Republican and Democrat co-sponsors for the bill.
"I learned at a young age that balancing the family budget and living within our means is a question of values," Rep. Bustos said. "Instead of balancing the federal budget on the backs of Illinois middle class families, seniors and veterans, we can start by reducing duplicative services and rooting out waste in government."
The 340-page GAO report has "been gathering dust on the shelves" since it was published in 2011, Rep. Bustos said. On the campaign trail she raised the report as a way the government could save money without cutting benefits for seniors or veterans.
She does not have a specific dollar target for how much money could be saved if recommendations in the document are implemented, but anticipates savings in the "tens of billions of dollars."
The 15-member panel would include three Republicans and three Democrats from the House with the same number split between the parties from the Senate and three members to be appointed by the White House.
Recommendations from the panel would go to Congress for an up or down vote, Rep. Bustos said.Each proposal made to Congress would have to result in a decrease of overall government spending or enhance government revenue.
Cutting back on duplicated government programs could result in job losses for federal workers but Rep. Bustos said taxpayers are her priority.
"I would always be sympathetic to any kind of job losses," Rep. Bustos said. "But I'm also sympathetic to the taxpayers and what this does is it looks out for the taxpayers above all else."
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