Incentives for government managers?

Posted by Marc Hodak on June 7, 2010 under Government service, Politics | Be the First to Comment

Most people would agree that the federal budget is a cesspool of waste.  The few who disagree are those who directly benefit from the spending, i.e., our members of Congress.  The agencies that spend the money know how utterly wasteful some of it is.  Some of it is so useless that even the agencies don’t have the stomach to spend it all.  Unfortunately, few agencies have an incentive to not spend money. In my brief stint in government, I’ve experienced the last quarter rush to “use it or lose it.”  It is an ugly, cynical process.

Now, the White House is asking for an incentive to not spend it all:

The proposed change would let agencies that save money redirect half the savings to other initiatives, with the rest going toward deficit reduction, an administration official said on Sunday…

“The president’s goal has been to change Washington’s focus from figuring out how to spend money to how to save money, and we are going to incentivize savings instead of spending,” Mr. Emanuel said Sunday.

At least the administration understands economics and incentives as it applies to the decision-making right before their eyes.

Alas, the article suggests the source of opposition to this measure:

It is likely to be welcomed by deficit hawks but could attract opposition from members of Congress who appropriate money, as it would take away some of their control of the federal purse…

Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for Rep. Eric Cantor (R., Va.), said the latest plan sounded “too complex” and “constitutionally questionable.”

“If this administration and Congress is serious about lowering the debt, they should start cutting spending immediately,” he said.

Which proves that economic ignorance/political cynicism is not monopolized by Democrats.

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