Bureaucracy is one of the major problems with Washington, D.C. Unelected government employees are being allowed to make decisions that affect our day to day lives. This is the definition of bureaucracy.
Over the past two years, Republicans, who have held a majority in both chambers of Congress, have done little if anything to reduce the government’s reckless spending. Washington is drunk on money, our money. Daniel Horowitz at Conservative Review recently noted that Congress continually authorizes money to the executive branch beyond what the executive branch needs to operate. For example, the Trump administration requests a certain amount of money per department, then it is up to Congress to authorize the money. Giving an agency more money than it needs creates an environment for wasteful spending to occur. This makes Republicans in Congress complicit in wasteful spending.
In 2013, the Washington Post published an extensive article about what is called “use it or lose it” season in Washington. This is the time of year when government agencies rush to spend what money is remaining in their accounts. Why does this occur? According to the Washington Post, “The reason for their haste is a system set up by Congress that, in many cases, requires agencies to spend all their allotted funds by Sept. 30. If they don’t, the money becomes worthless to them on Oct. 1. And — even worse — if they fail to spend the money now, Congress could dock their funding in future years. The incentive, as always, is to spend.”
The result? Billions of taxpayer dollars spent on wasteful projects. For example, the WP article notes that in the final days of the fiscal calendar, “the Department of Veterans Affairs bought $562,000 worth of artwork. In a single day, the Agriculture Department spent $144,000 on toner cartridges. And, in a single purchase, the Coast Guard spent $178,000 on ‘Cubicle Furniture Rehab.’” This is no joke.
If Congress continues to spend money recklessly, then it is up to the executive branch i.e. the Trump administration to fix this. What can President Trump do to put a stop to this wasteful spending? The president can issue an executive order instructing each federal agency to put an end to the “use it or lose it” practice and other wasteful practices. A similar executive order has already been issued in 2017. The problem? The existing order lays the groundwork for cost savings across the federal government but it doesn’t put an enforceable plan into action. The president must issue a new executive order which would create penalties should agencies not comply.
Here is what the new executive order should look like for beginners:
- Build upon executive order 13781 in making the executive branch the most cost-efficient possible by creating penalties should agencies fail to comply with the plan.
- Limit agency spending on “non-essential” items. Non-essential items are any expenditure that is not required in order for the agency to carry out its duties. (For example, hundreds of thousands of dollars of artwork is not essential.)
- Require agencies to reduce spending by several percentage points year after year. This will require agencies to find and eliminate wasteful spending. It will also cause agencies to reduce employee numbers.
- Direct agencies to send any unused funds to the Treasury Department in the form of a donation to pay off America’s outstanding public debt.
- Incentivize the implementation of this plan by offering various perks for whichever agency cuts the most money in percentage points year after year.
- Require agencies to report what money has been saved and donated to the U.S. Treasury as a result of such measures.
What will be the end result of such an executive order? It will force agencies to run a tight ship from a financial position. It will also save the U.S. billions of dollars in wasteful spending each year. Lastly, such a move by President Trump would prove to the American people, leading into the 2020 election, that his administration is serious about cutting government waste.