Which agencies or departments would get the worst grades if there were report cards used to evaluate a federal bureaucracy?
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) does rate the various federal agencies on an as-requested basis, answering to Congress with a variety of reports and recommendations. Their website makes for interesting browsing:
In response to 9, I would venture to say that the only way to reduce wastage is to separate the money flow to and from the agencies from the political election process. So many elected officials use the pork-barrel as evidence of their committment to their constituents to stay in office that I think the only way to sever those ties would be with term limits for every elected official that we have.
Is there any end to this list? It might be more interesting to approach this question from a different angle and ask if there are any departments which would get a good result from such an exercise. Certainly bureaucratic wastage seems rampant in so many different departments and areas. Is it possible for any department such as those listed above to be free from wastage, and what would it take for this to happen?
I'd like to add the FDA to this list and the agency in control of what kind of food is served/wasted in our public schools, government funded nursing homes, and state universities.
I have been in shock and horror over the amount of wasted food (alone, don't get me started on waste in SO MANY OTHER AREAS of government) and even wasted caloric intake for the kind of food that is served to our children and high school students 2 out of 3 meals a day. This to me is a catalyst for America's high obesity rate, which in turn, affects healthcare.
I would argue that our legal system is the most inefficient. We spend exorbitant amounts of money on trials. Because there is often overlap between local and federal courts, we spend time and money determining who has jurisdiction, making deals and taking appeals. The process drags out far too long. Often it takes years for a case to either reach the courtroom or be dismissed.
As other posters have stated, it realy depends on which criteria you are using, as well as what you value in government services and/or what you think the government's role in providing them should be. That being said, FEMA jumps to mind, as does the Department of Homeland Security. Both are tasked wth delivering an array of specific services, emergency response and border security, and have both largely failed in those capacities, or been so cost ineffective in those capacities that they would receive a poor grade from me.
Teachers would probably say something about the current state of the Department of Education and the No Child Left Behind policy. Unfunded mandates in education are always unpopular and NCLB is especially problematic because it seems to be untenable at some point. The states are required to administer a state-wide exam, but that exam can vary from state to state which draws questions of what the national norms should be. When politicians who know little to anything about education except for the fact that they once went to school make policy, the teachers/educators get a little frustrated.
I agree with the previous posts that include the EPA, CIA and FBI. I would also add the U. S. Postal Service, which is managed so badly that it lost nearly $3 billion last year. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, FEMA proved to be another agency managed with incredible ineptness.
If one bases one's grade on efficiency of operation, then perhaps the Department of Agriculture is a likely candidate. It administers large amounts of subsidies for products of questionable value such as tobacco thereby promoting the production of a harmful product. There is substantial evidence that the Agriculture department tends to promote wasteful and inefficient production methods because farmers are reluctant to change.
Another likely candidate would be the Department of Justice. There is some argument that the FBI and CIA often engage in a "turf war" based solely on protecting their own "territory" without regard for their ultimate responsibility; which is protecting the American people.
This is a very difficult question to answer because A) we do not know what criteria would be on such a report card, B) so much of a person's evaluation of an agency is determined by their political opinions of that agency's mission and C) because much of what people hate about some agencies is the fault of laws passed by Congress and not the actual fault of the agency.
That said, I would imagine that two agencies would get the lowest grades. They would be the IRS and the EPA. I believe that these agencies would get the lowest grades because their missions are so unpopular with so many people. The IRS is in charge of taking people's tax money. It also has to administer a hugely complicated tax code. This means that it has to enforce hard to understand rules about a process that people hate. The EPA is hated by many people because it can micromanage what they do with their land or their business in ways that seem very intrusive. It tends to do so for a reason (environmental protection) that many people think is unnecessary.