Zero Based Budget Act
In recent years, your federal government has spent $615,000 to digitize Grateful Dead tickets, $442,000 to study male prostitutes in Vietnam, $2.5 million for a Super Bowl commercial, and my personal favorite, $216,000 to study the use of "ambiguous" statements by politicians and whether they, "gain or lose support by taking ambiguous positions." (I will not take a position on that study.)
There are thousands upon thousands of examples like these that beg the question, “who authorized these expenditures?” The sad answer to that legitimate question is that no one did. The money flows to agencies and departments without accountability or expectation.
Don’t believe me? Government auditors spent the past five years examining all federal programs and found that 22 percent of them -- costing taxpayers a total of $123 billion annually -- failed to show any positive impact on the populations they serve. When the federal government says you are failing, you must really be failing. Yet, you can visit expectmore.gov and see that most of these programs are still being funded.
So what can we do to stop government on auto-pilot?
The answer - demand we start from zero - every year.
This Congress, I have introduced my first piece of legislation , titled the “Zero Based Budget Act.” The legislation will demand the federal government, including Congress, move to what is referred to as a “zero-based” budget. This method of budgeting is nothing new in business, but it will be a dramatic change for Washington.
Investopedia defines zero based budgeting as, “A method of budgeting in which all expenses must be justified for each new period. Zero-based budgeting starts from a ‘zero base’ and every function within an organization is analyzed for its needs and costs. Budgets are then built around what is needed for the upcoming period, regardless of whether the budget is higher or lower than the previous one.”
In addition to demanding a zero starting point, my legislation accomplishes a few other necessary reforms.
First, every department and agency of the federal government, when submitting their budget request each year, must provide a description of each activity for which a department or agency receives an appropriation.
Second, every department and agency of the federal government must cite to Congress the legal basis under which they may lawfully receive an appropriation.
Third, every department and agency of the federal government must offer three alternative funding levels. Additionally, two out of the three must be for less money than the prior budget year. This innovative budget mechanism will allow agencies and department leaders to help Congress cut waste, or risk Congress taking an across the board approach. Tell us where to cut or we will cut for you.
Lastly, for each activity a department of agency requests money for, they must provide a summary of its cost effectiveness and efficiency to the taxpayer. This will allow Congress and taxpayers to judge whether we are truly getting our money’s worth.
We can do this, but I need your help. Please contact your Representative and ask them to sign on. Together, using email, facebook, twitter, and more, we can put an end to pig odor research and other pork burdening America's taxpayers!
Read the Bill and Other Links
The Zero Based Budget Act (.pdf file)
What is Zero Based Budgeting?
Budget & Government Waste Resources
Top 50 Examples of Government Waste
Senator Tom Coburn's "Wastebook"
See What Programs are Not Performaing @ ExpectMore.gov
The Cato Institute's "Downsizing Government" Report