834341 Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.): Hundreds of programs under 17 Cabinet departments should be considered for elimination.

Federal agencies needing to pare their spending under sequestration should first cut wasteful and unnecessary programs, the chairman of the House government oversight committee said Friday.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) sent letters to 17 Cabinet departments citing hundreds of programs that have been questioned in inspector general reports and advising that many of the recommendations could be carried out “in the short term.” His Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold the first of a series of hearings Tuesday, beginning with the Education and Transportation departments.

He asked the agencies to give the committee a list of programs “no longer necessary to meet the goals of the agency” and a list of spending reductions “that would be more beneficial to the American people than across-the-board sequestration.”

“We cannot avert sequestration without a plan to end the undisciplined and unsustainable federal spending that resulted in the sequester in the first place,” Issa said in similar letters sent to each agency. “It is time for the federal government to eliminate wasteful and duplicative programs, in addition to making reductions in non-essential agency programs.”

Office of Management and Budget guidance sent this week called on agencies to tighten controls over hiring, awards and training for federal employees; their use of grants, loans and other financial assistance to nonfederal entities; and their spending on contracts.  It did not specifically mention eliminating programs but said that decisions on how to operate under lower spending levels “must be guided by the principle of protecting the agency’s mission to serve the public to the greatest extent practicable.”