Federal Manager's Daily Report

A budget outline for fiscal 2018 up for a vote in the House this week cites several management-related issues as in need of attention across government, presenting them as targets for improvements due to their impact on spending.

For example, it calls “stunning” GAO’s estimate that agencies made $144 billion in improper payments in 2016 and says the figure “likely understates the full extent of the problem.” (Improper payments are not necessarily overpayments; the category also includes accurate amounts that were not fully documented and underpayments.) The plan proposes creating a new commission to recommend ways of reducing improper payments by 50 percent within the next five years, with authority to ensure that agencies comply with its recommendations.

Similarly, the budget cites repeated assessments of the earned income tax credit as being vulnerable to fraud, proposing strengthening verification requirements.

It also focuses on several specific agencies, saying for example that the VA can achieve better results if it ” reduces its bureaucracy by consolidating the number of layers between top and bottom employees; reducing the number of managers; accelerating the hiring and appointment processes (working alongside the Congress where appropriate); streamlining the disciplinary process; refining performance measure metrics; and strengthening oversight and contract administration of government private employee contracts.”

The committee’s plan also says the Pentagon must pay “full attention to meeting its audit readiness goals” that have not been met for years; proposes consolidating various functions of the Commerce Department on grounds that they are duplicative; and urges giving states more control over anti-poverty and workforce development programs while consolidating those, as well.