Excerpts from Chairman Chaffetz’s Discussion at Brookings Institution on the “State of Oversight and Government Reform”

Ahead of President Obama’s final State of the Union address, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, today appeared at the Brookings Institution to deliver an update on the “State of Oversight and Government Reform.”

Below are several excerpts from Chairman Chaffetz’s discussion this morning:

On Information Technology and the Federal Government | Since President Obama took office…the federal government has spent in excess $525 billion – BILLION – on IT, and I could go through every department or agency and tell you it doesn’t work. It creates great, massive vulnerabilities.  … IT is probably my biggest concern. We’re spending a ridiculous amount of money and yet you could go down to Best Buy and probably get a better result. We’re spending 70 percent of that $80 billion roughly on legacy systems. We have places, I’ve heard, that have punch cards still. You’ve got agencies that still have Windows 97. They don’t even service that at Microsoft anymore….it’s demoralizing, it takes more resources. Technology is supposed to make life easier, faster, swifter, and yet it becomes cumbersome and needing more people. I want to give the secretaries the flexibility they need to root out the bad apples.”

On Government Accountability | “There’s a tendency to just want to protect. There’s a natural inclination to say ‘no, you can’t see that because that’s going to be embarrassing.’ But that’s not the way our government works. In the United States of America, we’re different from everybody else. We’re self-critical. We do open up our books. It’s the People’s business. The People are paying for it, and they ought to have access to that information.

On Government Management | We have a lot of good, patriotic people who work for the federal government. I worry about the management. I worry about the size and scope of the government. We’re going to have to figure out how to do more with less. But so much of what the federal government is doing – they shouldn’t even be doing!  …new laws, new regulations are added, but very rarely do we have anything eliminated. That’s what I would like to see us do: trim the fat, get in there to the underbrush, clear it out, and remember the core function of our federal government and allow that to happen.”