The Washington Post

Federal workers tell us what should be cut from the budget

With the budget for the rest of the fiscal year finally passed and more cuts to spending on the way, we asked federal workers, contractors and others with in-depth knowledge of the workings of federal government to answer a simple question: What needs to be trimmed from the budget?

Here are some suggestions from online responses. We have identified only the employees’ departments.

 

Treasury Department

Social Security: The retirement age should be adjusted every five years based on updated life-expectancy rates. If the average life expectancy in the 1930s was 73 and the retirement age was 64, then the retirement age for Social Security going forward should be the 2011 average life expectancy less nine years. To the extent there is a large disparity in the retirement age under current law and the “new” retirement age, the spread should be phased in over the same number of years as the difference (add one year longer per year of disparity).

Social Security payments received by individuals with adjusted gross income greater than $500,000 (or $1 million jointly) should be subject to 100 percent tax. If a recipient knows he will be above the threshold, he could make an irrevocable election with SSA to forgo payments for the balance for the next year (or permanently) — thus not taking them into income. The election would not affect survivor benefits.

 

Agriculture Department

I would reduce the Paperwork Reduction Act. Making sure the government doesn’t impose excessive paperwork and information-collecting on the public is laudable, but there should be a threshold for reporting. What constitutes information collection and a “burden” is ridiculous. . . . The government is spending much more time and money justifying the collection of information than the public is spending actually providing the information.

 

Defense across the board. The food-stamp program needs major overhaul. Way too many people are just plain living off of it now. It accounts for over 75 percent of the USDA budget.

 

Interior Department

All subsidies to oil and coal industry, agricultural subsidies in most cases, and defense should be cut by 25 percent. Bush tax cuts should be eliminated. Corporations should be taxed at 15 percent.

 

Social Security Administration

Corporate subsidies, foreign aid to some countries, U.S. defense of foreign countries, tax cuts to the very wealthy, tax concessions/subsidies to churches, congressional perks, subsidies to private schools and colleges.

Internal Revenue Service

Bottom line, there are way too many levels of management, too many executives, too much duplication of effort, too many meetings, etc. We simply have too much “managing” going on: meetings about meetings, time spent fine-tuning the administration of the organization and so on. We could greatly reduce our budget by simplifying the management areas of responsibility, thereby reducing the executive and upper-level management ranks. We also have too many employees (many of them in higher pay brackets) in the administrative areas and too few in the field, assisting taxpayers. (By the way, I work in headquarters, so I don’t say this out of malice but based on firsthand observation.)

National Institutes of Health

I think the workforce needs to be
looked at. There are a lot of workers who are not doing 100 percent of what they should be doing. Due to such things as the misuse of EEO (equal employment opportunity), there are a lot of employees who are able to hold onto their positions, collect paychecks and not do what they were hired to do. This creates more work for those who do their jobs, as well as a waste of taxpayers’ money. A really good way to accomplish this is to do an overhaul of the PMAP system, that is, the performance-based system that the grade-scaled federal employees are on. Under this system, most employees receive a “fully successful,” even if they are not performing their duties, due to their supervisor’s fear of backlash from that employee. If the PMAP system can be redone in order to have it more based on performance, employees who are not performing can be let go easier, and this will cut costs.

Environmental Protection Agency

Management. The layers of management are insane. . . . It takes 13 steps and five layers to get a signature from our office director, more to get a signature to the assistant secretary/administrator.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Most middle mangers; many have old-time skills and non-innovative processes. . . . Redundant training, which has nothing to do with real-world skills.

Lisa Rein covers the federal workforce and issues that concern the management of government.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The Democrats debated Thursday night. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Chris Cillizza on the Democratic debate...
On Clinton: She poked a series of holes in Sanders's health-care proposal and broadly cast him as someone who talks a big game but simply can't hope to achieve his goals.

On Sanders: If the challenge was to show that he could be a candidate for people other than those who already love him, he didn't make much progress toward that goal. But he did come across as more well-versed on foreign policy than in debates past.
The PBS debate in 3 minutes
Quoted
We are in vigorous agreement here.
Hillary Clinton, during the PBS Democratic debate, a night in which she and Sanders shared many of the same positions on issues
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the polls as he faces rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz heading into the S.C. GOP primary on Feb. 20.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
Fact Checker
Trump’s claim that his border wall would cost $8 billion
The billionaire's claim is highly dubious. Based on the costs of the Israeli security barrier (which is mostly fence) and the cost of the relatively simple fence already along the U.S.-Mexico border, an $8 billion price tag is simply not credible.
Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio
Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands
Most Read

politics

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.