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Obama Administration's Cost-Cutting Incompetence

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Barack Obama has made it clear that he is a big believer in big government and has adopted a economic plan to run trillions of dollars in annual deficits for as long as possible. Obama remains steadfast against making any dramatic cuts in government spending and when pressed to announce some half-hearted effort to cut the size and the cost of government, his administration has resisted the cuts, and has transformed even the puniest efforts to cut federal spending into even greater demands upon taxpayer funds. The Obama Administration’s cost cutting efforts within federal agencies are so ineffective, they often cost taxpayers more than the savings originally proposed by the cuts.


Consider, for example, a recent Obama administration plan to consolidate data centers across the federal bureaucracy--an effort that they claim will save millions of dollars. However, close examination, by GAO and the DoD among others, shows that the cost of the implementation of data center consolidation for almost 24 agencies cost is likely to cost billions, that most of the federal agencies consolidating data centers haven't fully evaluated the total costs.

OMB estimated that " 30%-50% savings could be obtained" in operational costs through data consolidation efforts. However, OMB did not consider, on an agency-by-agency basis, the costs in manpower to transfer data and software from the IT servers located in various agencies throughout the country to the one location of the consolidated data center, nor the costs of the displaced IT persons within agencies who no longer provide IT support, nor the costs of the additional backup storage.

In addition to these increases in the operational costs for the agency, there is also the increase in the energy costs for the data centers to be considered. It turns out that a recent Congressional Research Survey (CRS) study shows that data centers consume "as much as 100 times the energy of a typical office building". In 2012, CRS estimates that costs for energy at consolidated data centers will run about $7.4 billion dollars annually. So, it seems that the Obama Administration is advocating spending $7.4 billion dollars annually to save $510 million. Can't they see what's wrong with that math?


Then, there is the complicated case of federal employee early retirement and buyouts which are occurring in several federal agencies. The U.S. Postal service is reporting that buyouts are expected for 7,400 postal employees. A buyout is where the government has deemed that the service level, capacity or task of a particular series of workers is unnecessary and can be eliminated without creating a negative impact on agency performance.

What often occurs, instead, is that federal employees with anywhere from 25 to 40 years of service who, already, were in the process of retiring, sign up for the buyout and are rewarded with an extra $15,000 to 25,000 for doing what they were planning on doing anyway.

Imagine, an entity such as the Postal Service, which is claiming that it can't afford to deliver mail 5 days a week, can afford to spend almost $150 million dollars this year on buyouts. Of course, taxpayers can also expect to pick up the costs of any of the Postal employees who then continue to receive retirement pay, averaging approximately $1.7 million in pay and benefits per retiree. Or, for those who take the buyout but can't find work, then the American taxpayer also face the possibility of paying for 99 weeks of unemployment in addition to the $15,000-$25,000 buyout. These expenditures are claimed as cost savings by the Obama administration.

Then there is the Obama administration's recent knee-jerk, political posturing in which the administration has canceled almost all federal meetings, conferences, and travel in a throw-out-the-baby-with-the-bathwater cost cutting idiocy. In order for the government to cancel conferences at the last minute, many of which have already been issued contracts, the government is required to pay a "termination for the convenience of the government" penalty. These costs can range in the millions for each termination issued.


In addition to a termination penalty fee, the federal government must also pay for any special costs, such as the efforts of the business' contract lawyers, procurement and management professionals, partial goods ordered and severance costs for any persons involved. In fact, the termination costs can equal or exceed the amount of the original contract.

Recently, in the wake of the GSA conference and clown scandal, GSA canceled all travel and conferences, as did many other federal agencies. In addition to the down-the-stream costs to cities, hotels and travel service industries, the government has also paid and continues to pay millions in termination for convenience costs.

The Obama administration's intentions may be well-meaning. Certainly, in the midst of a heated election year, they are trying to avoid political scandal. And, without a doubt the administration is trying to claim that they are doing a good job saving taxpayer money, but this is just not true.

The Obama administration is not saving taxpayer dollars--in fact, their many different “cost cutting” initiative are actually resulting in greater spending.

Americans need to look carefully at the Obama administration's so-called energy-saving, budget-cutting, and efficiency efforts. Whether well-meaning incompetence or poor management, the reform mandates and cost cutting efforts of the Obama administration have not lived up to their hype and are costing the American taxpayer far more than is saved.


The Obama administration will be known as the biggest spender in our nation’s history and even the few half-hearted efforts launched to cut unneeded programs and reduce wasteful spending result in even greater taxpayers costs and a further expansion of government.

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