Sunday, December 18, 2011

Brinkmanship and Government Shutdowns

Amazingly enough--Congress got their act together again at the last minute to avert a government shutdown that had the potential for completely destroying our economy.

I continue to be amazed that the Congress is so dysfunctional that every couple of months it brings our country to the brink of disaster but failing to pass a budget. Here is the rub--the budget was due to be in place by October 1. It is late-December with Christmas upon us and last-minute deals are required to preserve the economy and the functioning of our government.

What is wrong with this image?

Yet, we Americans are beginning to accept this approach to budgeting as the norm. It happens every year. But, this approach is incredibly wasteful. I believe that if the Congress could get a budget passed before the start of the fiscal year that governmental agencies could better manage their resources and provide increased levels of efficiency. As it is now, countless peeople are engaged in multiple levels of contingency planning to prepare for and mitigate the effects which would occur as the result of a total government shutdown.

That, folks, is waste--effort which could and should be applied elsewhere.

I am reminded of the potential impact on the budget by something so ubiquitious as a computer log in.

Go with me on this hypothetical example.

There are about 4.43 million (including military) government workers making an average pay of $67,600 per year. These figures are according to some quick research I did on the net and you should be able to easily replicate these numbers. That means that the average pay is about $32.50 per hour.

Now, if the login time for these workers to access the computer network necessary to do their work is increased by 15 seconds every day, that means that the effective cost in term of lost producticity is about $599,000 per day. Over the course of the year that equates to over $1.2 Billion (yes billion). For a 15 second change.

Think about how much time is being wasted every year because Congress can't get their jobs done on time.

And then add to that the increasingly oppressive oversight and reporting requirements that Congress levies on the Executive Branch. The overhead costs of doing business are becoming so great that productivity is eroding.

Brinkmanship costs us, the taxpayers, money. Real money.

We need to impress upon our representatives that they are expected to get a budget passed before the start of the fiscal year. It is one of the required items on their report cards--and then we can begin to streamline the overhead associated with operating the US Government.

"We the People" need to help our leaders channel their energy more wisely.

--Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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