GAO report needs to hit harder

A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office sent to the Congressional leadership on November 17, 2006, outlines some key areas where the incoming 110th Congress needs to provide greater oversight.

The GAO’s mission is “to help improve the performance and accountability of the federal government for the American people.” Thus, the report focuses on efficiency — making the government work better.

Better, however, would have been more far-reaching recommendations, for instance, in the GAO’s look at the U.S. Postal Service:

  • Ensure that the Postal Service maintains services consistent with its standards as it implements changes to reduce costs related to providing postal services.
  • Assess the Postal Service’s changes to its mail processing and transportation networks to ensure that they are reasonable, transparent, and coordinated with affected stakeholders, and that they achieve intended cost savings and efficiencies.
  • Adopt flexible, performance-oriented, and market-based compensation systems for postal employees.

    Far, far better would have been to question the very existence of this outmoded and inefficient postal monopoly.

    The GAO’s recommendations for the farm sector are much more specific and on target — and seem to recognize that U.S. farm programs dish out billions each year that go into the pockets of large producers:

    • Increase the monitoring of the compliance provisions in the farm bill. · Strengthen internal controls in the federal crop insurance program to weed out fraud, waste, and abuse.
    • Eliminate loopholes in the agriculture subsidy programs that allow recipients to avoid payment limitations and annually collect millions of dollars in payments.
    • Assess financial incentives for producers to convert native rangeland to produce crops, resulting in increased program costs and lost environmental benefits.

    While many issues in the report are ones that need more attention, the GAO needs to follow up in greater depth — and concentrate on those programs that need to be abolished rather than improved.