Senate committee approves bill to reduce wasteful end-of-year spending

congressThe Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (HSGAC) today approved a bipartisan proposal from U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) to empower federal workers to identify and cut down on unnecessary federal spending.

By a vote of 9-5, the Committee voted to approve the Bonuses for Cost-Cutters Act, which would allow federal agencies to give bonuses of up to $10,000 to federal employees who save taxpayer money by finding and reporting unnecessary federal spending.

The bill expands an existing program that allows U.S. government inspectors general to reward federal employees with a bonus for finding and reporting wasteful or fraudulent spending. Under the Warner-Paul proposal, that program would be expanded to include “unneeded or surplus” end-of-year funds.

Spending at federal agencies in the last week of the fiscal year is 4.9 times higher than the weekly average the rest of the year but research shows that the quality of spending is lower than the rest of the year. Under theBonuses for Cost-Cutters Act, federal employees who identify unneeded or surplus funds will be eligible for a bonus worth 10 percent of the savings, up to $10,000.

“Our bipartisan proposal encourages federal agencies to return unused funds instead of rushing to spend-down their appropriations at the end of every fiscal year. When we empower federal employees to identify surplus funds instead of encouraging the ‘use it or lose it’ mentality, we are better stewards of taxpayers’ dollars,” said Sen. Warner. “I hope the Senate will move soon to approve this commonsense approach to government efficiency and federal spending.”

“Use it or lose it” is a well-known problem where government agencies race to spend unused budget authority before it expires at the end of a fiscal year, often on unneeded goods and services. Under the Bonuses for Cost-Cutters Act, federal employees on the front lines of government spending will have a personal incentive to save taxpayer money and counter the current end-of-year rush to exhaust all funds, while 90 percent of the identified savings will be redirected to the U.S. Treasury to reduce the deficit.

National Taxpayers Union and Citizens Against Government Waste have endorsed the legislation.

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