Donald Lambro

Just to prove he's serious, he throws in the Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. He would move the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Commerce's largest agency) to the Interior Department.

All of this looks like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic that's about to sink beneath the waves of the 2012 election. Musical chairs is not a policy to shrink the size of government.

The supposed savings from this rearrangment: a paltry $3 billion which sounds exaggerated because he doesn't really get rid of anything. Government is given to over the top efficiency claims, but it's hard to find it in this silly Rube Goldberg contraption concocted in Obama's re-election shop.

I have a little experience with many of the agencies that Obama wants to move around on his monopoly board. In 1980 I wrote Fat City, a book that proposed eliminating or reducing hundreds of agencies, departments, programs and other bureaucracies. Many of the agencies Obama is content to just move around should be eliminated.

The Export-Import Bank and OPIC represent corporate welfare at its worst, handing out loans and other benefits to rich Fortune 500 companies. SBA has a very limited but costly record in the small business world and affects a relatively tiny circle of businesses.

Don't get me wrong. There is certainly a great deal of duplication across the vast expanse of government where clerks are busily doing the very same things being done in dozens of other agencies.

In a report last year on the insane growth of duplication and overlap throughout the bureaucracy, the Government Accountability Office discovered 82 programs to improve teacher quality. The GAO said many if not most of them "share similar goals," but that "there is no government-wide strategy to minimize fragmentation, overlap, or duplication..."

These and other spending scandals were contained in a 345-page audit, that GAO annually provides to Congress as a result of legislation authored by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

Among its shocking findings as spelled out by Coburn:

-- "Twenty agencies operating 56 programs dedicated to financial literacy."

-- "Eighty economic development programs at four agencies at a cost of $6.5 billion."

-- "The Department of Transportation spends $58 billion on 100 programs run by five agencies with 6,000 employees that haven't evolved since 1956."

-- "Fifteen federal agencies administer more than 30 food- related laws."

-- "At least five departments, eight agencies and more than two dozen presidential appointees oversee $6.48 billion related to bioterrorism."

-- There are more than 20 separate programs to help the homeless, and 80 programs dealing with economic development.

So here comes little Obama with a minuscule, $3 billion pop gun plan to attack government duplication that won't make a dent in the problem.

Last year's revealing GAO report showed that by ending duplication "we could save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars every year," Coburn says.

It's clear that neither Obama nor the people around him know about this report. He should give Coburn a call if he's serious about this.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.