GAO Says Federal Government Must Change
David Walker, Comptroller General of the United States, recently told Congress that the federal government will not have the future revenues to continue operating in the manner it now operates. Financial constraints will force the government to become smaller and more efficient.
Mr. Walker's testified before the House Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce and Agency Organization, Committee on Government Reform on July 13, 2005. He did not mince words when giving GAO's position on what the future holds for the federal government:
Long-term fiscal challenges and other significant trends and challenges facing
the United States provide the impetus for reexamining the base of the federal government. Our nation is on an imprudent and unsustainable fiscal path driven
by known demographic trends and rising health care costs, and relatively low revenues
as a percentage of the economy. Unless we take effective and timely action, we will
face large and growing structural deficit shortfalls, eroding our ability to address
the current and emerging needs competing for a share of a shrinking budget pie.
The GAO has made the same warning repeatedly during the last several years. There is not enough money to sustain the federal government's operations as currently constituted. Winston does not know of anyone who has disproved or even seriously disputed these warnings. Winston also does not know of any significant reforms by the government that might avoid the inevitable fiscal and operational disaster if things don't change.
Mr. Walker suggested reforms that could stop us from falling off the fiscal cliff. Above all else, he testified that "agencies need to change their cultures and create the capacity to become high-performing organizations, by implementing a more results-oriented and performance-based approach to how they do business."
GAO has devoted considerable time and resources to developing a model for a more cost-efficient federal government. The agency recommends three key initiatives:
(1) development of a governmentwide strategic plan and key national indicators to assess the government's performance, position, and progress; (2) implementing a framework for federal human capital reform; and (3) proposing specific transformational leadership models, such as creating a Chief Operating Officer/Chief Management Official with a term appointment at select agencies.
All this makes good sense to Winston. If the federal government waits until it is too late to change, then don't blame GAO. They told you so-- over and over again.
Click for Mr. Walker's written testimony.