Feb 11 2015
Washington — Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) held a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 11, titled, “Risky Business: Examining GAO’s 2015 List of High Risk Government Programs.” Prior to the hearing, Chairman Johnson held a bicameral press conference with Ranking Member Tom Carper and with Chairman Jason Chaffetz and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and with the Government Accountability Office’s Comptroller General of the United States, Gene Dodaro.
Chairman Johnson began the hearing discussing how crucial the GAO’s recommendations have been over the past couple of years in regard to cutting government spending. “The good work that the GAO has done is demonstrated by the fact that over the last two years, just the recommendations implemented from previous high risk lists have generated $40 billion of savings over the last two years,” Johnson said. He went on to say it’s crucial that agencies follow the advice: “Let’s make sure these recommendations are finally implemented at the agency level. It will save money. It will save lives.” [AUDIO HERE]
Veterans Affairs health care was added to the GAO’s list of high-risk programs in this year’s report. GAO experts testified that more than 100 of their recommendations to improve VA health care have not been implemented. Johnson asked, “What can we do? What could this committee potentially do to induce – might I say force? – implementation? Because you have so much money at stake, and it’s not just money. Take a look at the VA – it could be lives.” [AUDIO HERE]
“We often talk about cutting budgets, and all we’re really talking about is reducing the rate of growth in spending. Unfortunately, the GAO is one of these agency where we’ve actually cut spending,” Johnson said, pointing out that GAO’s budget dropped from $556 million in 2010 to $480 million in 2013 and $522 million in 2014. “Using your $40 billion figures, that’s a 76 to 1 payback,” Johnson told Dodaro. “If you add the $100 billion of Medicare and Medicaid … that’s a 268 to 1 payback. So I’d recommend that certainly all the committee members be somewhat supportive of making sure that the GAO is fully funded because it’s a pretty effective payback.” [AUDIO HERE]