We noted yesterday one way that the Congress can get the budget under control and reduce spending. Another is zero-based budgeting, which is supported by Republican candidates Carly Fiorina and Jeb Bush and former candidate Rick Perry.
Zero-based budgeting is a simple concept in theory, but a difficult one in practice: it requires each federal agency to justify each project in its budget request each appropriations cycle. Rather than the “baseline budgeting” being done now, where the previous year’s budget is taken as the starting point, and then an increase figured in, zero-based budgeting would require that each program be considered, and added or not added, with each appropriation.
In 2000, during Jeb Bush’s tenure as governor, Florida was one of the first states to enact an eight-year cycle of agency reviews to help it better evaluate budgetary requests. The effort was abandoned a few years later after state legislatures found the process expensive and time-consuming, according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
Well, yeah, it’s tough, so tough that the federal government hasn’t done it since Jimmy Carter was President. But just because it’s tough doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be done again. However, it doesn’t have to all be done at once: it could be implemented for two agencies the first year, then two more the second. Coupled with our suggestion of moving to two-year appropriations, with half of the budget done one year and the other half the next, it could be managed. In one four year term, the next President could get eight major federal departments onto zero-based budgeting.
Just think how much junk gets added into a budget one year, and then, because baseline budgeting is used, it simply continues for year after year after year. Carly Fiorina plans to move to a zero-based budgeting system, though few of the details have been released, and her campaign website doesn’t have the specifics.
— Carly Fiorina (@CarlyFiorina) June 26, 2015
There’s more at the link.
Alex Pappas | Political Reporter | June 11, 2015
“Every single agency” of the federal government has wasteful components, according to Carly Fiorina, who said she’d push to implement a new budgetary tool to eliminate inefficiencies across government if elected president.
During a conference call with reporters Thursday, The Daily Caller asked the Republican presidential candidate if she would get rid of any federal cabinet departments or agencies as president.
“While it might feel good to name two or three agencies that we could eliminate all together, the truth is every single agency has vast amounts of inefficiencies, ineffectiveness (even worse), duplication, just plain abuse and corruption,” Fiorina said.
Fiorina called for “zero-based budgeting” to prevent wasteful programs from slipping through the cracks every year.
“Not only would be know where every dollar is being spent, but we ask every agency to justify every single program every year,” Fiorina said.
Zero-based budgeting isn’t exactly a glamorous issue, and sometimes the stresses and requirements of campaigning for office shunt the policy wonkishness to the sidelines, but Mrs Fiorina was a hard-driving CEO at Hewlett-Packard, and she made some enemies there, including Walter Hewlett, son of H-P co-founder Bill Hewlett. It’s arguable that pushing zero-based budgeting could cost Mrs Fiorina any chance of carrying Virginia, with its sizable population of federal government workers in the suburbs around Washington. “Some tough calls are going to be required,” Fiorina said. “When you challenge the status quo, you make enemies. I made a few.” If she wins the election in 2016, actually implementing zero-based budgeting would make her a whole lot more enemies . . . but it would be the right thing to do to get our huge federal budget under control. It’s only when you really know what is in the budget, and every line item has to be justified and explained, that we can ever hope to manage it.