News

  • OMB SHOULD ENCOURAGE AGENCIES TO STOP SPENDING SPREE AS FISCAL YEAR ENDS: In a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Burwell, Dr. Coburn asks OMB to urge departments to end the "use it or lose" it mentality to spending remaining funds at the end of the fiscal year which GAO has noted can result in waste.
  • JUDICIARY JUNKETS SHOULD BE CUT BEFORE CANCELLING CASES:  In a letter to Judge John Bates, Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, Dr. Coburn asks for the AOUSC to properly allocate its resources to prevent furloughs, hearing cancelations, and case dismissals by halting non-essential conferences and excessive construction projects.
  • DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION SHOULD CANCEL SIN-CITY JUNKET AND CAMPAIGN-STYLE BUS TOURS:  In a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Dr. Coburn asks for the department to divert resources from lavish conferences and other areas of low-priority spending and instead use the funds for education programs.
  • USDA SHOULD STOP PROMOTING PICKLES, BLOODY MARY MIX, AND WINE AND INSTEAD FOCUS ON VULNERABLE: In a letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack, Dr. Coburn asks why the agency continues to spend lavishly on affluent islanders, wineries, artisan spirit production, and pickle promotion post sequestration when the agency first claimed sequester cuts would threaten our nation's most vulnerable.
  • DOJ SHOULD STOP CRYING WOLF ON SEQUESTER AND INSTEAD ADDRESS ABUNDANCE OF WASTE:  In a  letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Dr. Coburn urges DOJ to prioritize spending and reduce wasteful expenses such as exoctic conferences and funds devoted to recreation. 
  • CONGRESS SHOULD LEAD BY EXAMPLE AND ADDRESS WASTE IN THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH: Dr. Coburn sent a letter to Congressional leaders outlining areas of wasteful spending in Congress's own halls including sleep classes for staffers and taxpayer-funded vehichles for Members of Congress.
  • SEQUESTER LOW PRIORITY SPENDING AT THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT FIRST: Dr. Coburn outlines areas of unnecessary spending at the Department of the Interior including drones programs, sheep studies, and beaver conferences in a letter to Secretary Sally Jewel.
  • ADDRESS $1.2 BILLION IN POTENTIAL SAVINGS BEFORE SCAPEGOATING SEQUESTRATION FOR FLIGHT DELAYS: Forty-nine days since Dr. Coburn first wrote the FAA on how to responsibly manage sequestration with no response, Dr. Coburn asks why the FAA is doing its best to ensure sequestration is the scapegoat for every flight delay in a new letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. 
    • Currently, the FAA has 32,000 employees that are not air traffic controllers.  However, the FAA says its 15,000 air traffic controllers must make up an equal part of the agency’s furloughs – despite the fact the FAA employs a variety of employees that aren’t immediately critical to FAA’s mission.  Dr. Coburn asks the FAA to follow up on his previous letter identifying over a billion dollars in savings while also urging the FAA to refocus their efforts to serve the travelling public and keep the public safe.
  • FOLLOW GAO'S RECOMMENDATIONS ON REDUCING DUPLICATION:  In a letter to Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Jeffrey Zients, Dr. Coburns calls on the Administration to adhere and acknowledge the Government Accountability Office's recommendations put forth in the non-partisan agency's third installment of annual duplication reports which outlines overlap, fragmentation, and inefficiencies in the federal government.  The report's findings reveal $95 billion in potential savings - more than enough to cover the cost of sequester.      

    Additional information on the third annual GAO duplication report here.  

  • FIRST ELIMINATE AWOL EMPLOYEES BEFORE CRITICAL FURLOUGHS: Dr. Coburn sent the following letter to OPM Director John Berry urging agency heads to avoid critical furloughs by first eliminating employees that do not show up for work, who are not performing official work, or are simply not working at all, which cost the federal government millions in lost man-hours.
    • AWOL Employees: Between 2001 and 2007, employees at 18 departments and agencies were AWOL for at least 19.6 million hours, equivalent to 9,410 years of lost work.
    • Employees Being Paid to Perform Non-Official Duties: In 2011, the government spent over $155 million on 3.4 million hours of official time for employees that show up for work but were being paid to perform duties not related to the mission of their agency or the government.  According to the Office of Personnel Management, this is equivalent to a full year’s worth of work for 1,632 employees.
    • Employees Paid to "Stand By": At least 919 employees received standby pay in 2010, and 906 received it in 2011. The total cost of paying for these employees not to work over this two year period was over $13.1 million.
    • Government Contractors Paid to Do Nothing:  Delays in the security clearance process have kept between 10 and 20 percent of all intelligence contractors sitting idle awaiting a clearance while still being paid large salaries.  The cost of wasted contractor man-hours to the government has been estimated to be roughly between $900 million and $1.8 billion a month.  
  • PRIORITY SHOULD BE ON TAX PAYERS NOT TAX COLLECTORS:  Dr. Coburn sent the following letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, calling on the department to place priority on American taxpayers to ensure furloughs of critical employees who assist taxpayers are prevented by reducing federal spending for a $187 million tax credit that sends jobs overseas, ensuring the 311,566 federal employees pay their $3.5 billion in unpaid taxes from 2011, and restricting travel schedules and speaking engagements of Treasury staff.
  • SEQUESTER SNOW MOBILE CONFERENCES NOT SCIENCE:  Dr. Coburn sent the following letter to National Science Foundation director Dr. Subra Sureshurging the foundation to prioritize grants to ensure smaller budgets are invested in transformative science and basic research instead of granting awards for studies on robot rodents, projects studying shrimp on treadmills, and attendance expenses for snowmobile competitions, among others.

  • SEQUESTER SLUMLORDS BEFORE CUTTING HOUSING SERVICES: Dr. Coburn sent the following letter to HUD Director Shaun Donovan urging the agency to rein in cases of fraud and neglect across the country before cutting vital service for those in need.

    There are currently 4,000 PHA’s across the country receiving over $24 billion in federal aid. Over 700 of these PHA’s were scored just last year by HUD as having substandard management or finances, and the Inspector General identified $8.7 billion in HUD funds that could have been better spent to meet the agency’s goals. However, HUD only redirected $1.5 million.

  • MILLIONS OF WAYS TO SAVE AT THE FAA: Dr. Coburn sent the following letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood calling on the FAA to cancel upcoming conferences, freeze nonessential hiring and eliminate or reform low-priority programs before cutting costs that could impact flight safety.

  • MANAGEMENT 101, PART 2:  In a second letter on federal hiring to Acting Director Jeffrey Zients of the Office of Management and Budget, Dr. Coburn calls for OMB to heed their own previously released guidance and increase scrutiny of all hiring activity in order to avoid furloughs of mission-critical positions.   

    According to OMB, the average annual salary for a government employee is around $76,000, meaning that a new hire equates to one week furlough for 52 current government employees.

    Current job listings from the federal government include a social media manager at FDA; 23 openings related to recreation, painters at the Air Force, librarians, and public affairs specialists among others.  


  • FOOD INSPECTIONS VS WINE TASTINGS: Dr. Coburn sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack calling on the agency to cancel attendance at two upcoming conferences in California and Oregon set to feature "guest chefs" and "exceptional wines" for tastings.                                            
    • Floor speech on USDA waste and duplication here.
  • DUPLICATION NATION:Dr. Coburn sent the following letter to OMB highlighting more than 1,362 duplicative programs accounting for at least $364.5 billion in federal spending every year as identified by the Government Accountability Office.
    • Duplicative Federal Programs brief here
    • Duplication chart one here.
    • Duplication chart two here.
    • Duplication chart three here.
  • DEPARTMENT OF EVERYTHING: Dr. Coburn released a letter calling for DOD to cut waste like producing cooking shows and $5.2 million studies on how fish view democracy before furloughing essential personnel
    • Dr. Coburn's report, Department of Everything, explains how DOD can save $67.9 billion over 10 years by making specific cuts to programs and projects that have nothing to do with defense     
                   *DOD response here.                          
  • CUT FAT TO AVOID FURLOUGHS & FLIGHT DELAYS:Dr. Coburn released a letter calling for DHS to address waste first as sequestration looms.  Examples include a $212 million detection behavior program said to "lack outcome-oriented goals" by the GAO, a $75 million chemical facilities program which has failed to accomplish its goals at a handful of locations, and $5.25 billion in unspent FEMA grant funds.
    • Dr. Coburn's report on questionable spending by DHS, Safety at Any Price, outlines how too often so-called security spending is making our nation less secure by directing scarce dollars to low-priority projects and low-risk areas.
  • MANAGEMENT 101: Dr. Coburn released a letter to the Office of Management and Budget, pinpointing ten low priority job vacancies that, if eliminated, could save as much as $1.4 million which could be redirected towards more essential jobs being targeted for sequestration savings. 
  • LEAD BY EXAMPLE: Dr. Coburn called for the Administration to cancel their 100 city tour promoting federal spending as sequestration approaches in a letter to OMB.