Republican congressmen chided the Department of Health and Human Services for wasteful spending at a hearing of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight subcommittee Wednesday.
The legislators went after the agency for its spending on international travel, its expanding staff count, and its unwillingness to follow Government Accountability Office recommendations to dump ineffective programs, Politico
“It does appear that HHS is now too big to control,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. “It is very evident to us that you are too big to manage. You are too unwieldy . . . You are spending money in ways that you ought not to be spending it.”
Norris Cochran, deputy assistant secretary of budget for HHS, defended the agency, saying the large staff increase in recent years stems from an expansion of the Food and Drug Administration and the Indian Health Service. He also cited initiatives to scrap paper files and consolidate data collection.
But he neglected to mention the creation of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight to implement healthcare reform.
Republicans were having none of it in any case. Sub-committee chairman Cliff Stearns of Florida noted that 90 of the 100 highest-paid civil servants are HHS officials. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, suggested that the agency slash its foreign travel budget by inviting foreign officials to the United States at their own expense.
“We’ve all seen the reports in the last several months about some of these abuses of public funds — the GSA [General Services Administration], their trips to Las Vegas, the Secret Service and their escapades down in South America,” he said. “We all hope those are exceptions and not the rule. But I look at HHS, and . . . it’s an agency that’s almost uncontrollable.”
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