Although entitlements are by far the biggest funding problem facing our country, we should not overlook other opportunities for reducing the cost of operating the federal government. Reducing the size of agencies or offices won’t do it. Over the years, they simply creep up to be bigger and more expensive than ever. The best approach is elimination of organizations having limited value. Here are two we could all live without.
The Federal Highway Administration had an important function in early development of a national highway system. It coordinated the efforts of various state highway departments, many of which did not exist until the late 1920s. It developed standards, many of which are still in use today, and, of course, it monitored the development of the interstate highway system. I am personally proud of the role it played, since I started my civil engineering career with the Bureau of Public Roads, the forerunner of FHWA. This agency should be eliminated, its $42 dollar budget, the federal gas tax canceled, and its 2900 employees put to work at something more useful. The states would have the prerogative of raising their state gas tax to replace funds being passed through by the feds. Minor offices, considered to be vital, should be added to the Department of Transportation.
When I was going to school, the federal government was not involved in education at the local level. Education was and should be the responsibility of local school boards with some oversight at the state level. Therefore, elimination of the U.S. Department of Education makes good sense, along with its $161 billion budget, which includes authority over $97 billion of stimulus funding. This change could be transitioned over a five-year period to allow adjustments to local budgets.
Some of you have experience working with or in other federal agencies, and should be able to come up with other ideas of reducing waste in government. Lay it on us.