By DANA LIEBELSON
CHANGE IN THE COUCH
Every week until December 2--which is when the "Super Committee" has to submit its recommendations to reach the $1.5 trillion goal in budget cuts--POGO will publish a “Change in the Couch” post, which identifies cash savings in a place the government might not have checked yet. Are you a tipster who has found change in the government’s couch? Email [email protected].
Looking for more than spare change? Check out the recommendations POGO and Taxpayers for Common Sense made for nearly $600 billion in cuts to wasteful national security spending.
Two senators have made a budget cut proposal that should appeal to tree-huggers, thrifty mothers and you--use less paper for printing at the Department of Defense (DoD) and save a cool $20 million in fiscal year 2011.
The DoD spends a staggering amount printing, copying and faxing documents: at least $1.4 billion each year, according to a report put together by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK). That’s nearly triple the Government Accountability Office's entire budget. The report also estimates that $490 million of these funds are wasted through unnecessary printing, as many of the lengthy printed documents are already available online.
POGO made a rough calculation and found that if the DoD is spending an average of $29 per 10 reams of paper (5,000 sheets), it’s using about 240 billion sheets of paper per year. Granted, this doesn’t include the cost of ink, or bulk deals the DoD might be getting on paper. But that’s still enough dead trees to make the Lorax grab his Truffala seeds and run weeping towards the hills.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Sen. Coburn introduced a bill back in May—S. 1021—that would rescind $20 million from the DoD’s FY 2011 budget “from among amounts…for printing and reproduction costs.” It was most recently referred to the Committee on Appropriations and is awaiting further action.
The bill comes on the heels of a similar piece of legislation (H.R. 1246) that passed the House unanimously in April but hasn’t yet cleared the Senate, which would cut the DoD’s printing budget by 10 percent. According to Rep. Allen West (R-FL), the bill’s sponsor, this bill alone would save taxpayers about $35.7 million in 2012 and nearly $180 million over the next five years.
Sometimes, finding budget cuts in the DoD is akin to pulling teeth—this one however, would seem like an easy one to get behind. On my first day at POGO, I was immediately given a stack of recycled paper to use as a reporter’s notebook. As the DoD scours for ways to tighten its belt, it really ought to take a (reused) page from POGO’s book.
In the words of the wise, furry Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole lot, nothing’s going to get better. It’s not.”
Dana Liebelson is POGO's Beth Daley Impact Fellow.
Image by Flickr user Calweb.