A presidential advisory panel set up to look for waste and inefficiency in government is now looking for horror stories to illustrate its forthcoming report.
J. P. Bolduc, chief operating officer of the President's Private Sector Survey on Cost Control, circulated a memo earlier this month asking the heads of 35 task forces to provide a list of "horrifying and ridiculous events, anomalies, conditions and practices found by your task force."
"These need not be large dollar items but rather should focus on the ridiculous and absurd," the memo said.
The private-sector survey, headed by J. Peter Grace of W. R. Grace & Co., was set up with $1.8 million in business contributions to recommend ways to run the government in a more businesslike manner. The panel is already under scrutiny by a House subcommittee that suspects it has strayed away from its waste-and-inefficiency mandate and is dabbling in policy issues.
Bolduc's call for Golden Fleece-type examples of government wastefulness apparently fortified those suspicions. In a hearing last week, Rep. William D. Ford (D-Mich.), chairman of the Post Office and Civil Service subcommittee on investigations, suggested that the advisory panel was more interested in getting publicity and embarrassing the government than in finding administrative solutions to problems.
Bolduc says he was merely looking for ways to "beef up" the panel's recommendations and improve their chances of being put into effect. But he conceded yesterday that "perhaps the word 'horror' was not in good judgment."
"A lot more is being made out of that than I intended," he said.
The panel's report is due before the end of the year, but Bolduc said it should be ready before that. So far, his memo hasn't produced any examples of the absurd, but, he said, "I wouldn't expect to get responses back for a while." -- Cass Peterson