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“We are looking for ways to reduce the cost of the programs, but not necessarily to the extent they would cut spending,” said Richard Ruttig, director of the Government Accountability Office, a federal research agency, in an interview. “The savings are coming from reducing overhead costs, such as personnel and other things like utilities and management costs.”
The Office of Management and Budget does not provide financial information on programs. But a study that the office commissioned in 2016, commissioned by the Department of Defense but produced by a private contractor, compared one year’s annual savings from one program to another. The results were startling.
If the Pentagon had been spending the same amount it does now to provide financial assistance to those on welfare and public assistance, the savings would be as much as $1.5 billion annually. By contrast, the savings from cutting off the food stamps program would be as much as $1.5 billion annually.
And this figure does not account for the savings from the elimination of the Pell grants, which account for half of the Pell grants.
“The numbers are staggering,” said Michael D. Schmitt, the principal author and a research associate for the study. Mr. Schmitt and his co-author, Michael K. Stoll, published the results in the Journal of Administration and Budget.
Many programs receive large annual savings, and some get significant sums each year. The Department of Transportation received $6,846 for each passenger who used the bus in 2015, and it spent money each year on the bus, bus drivers and other costs. But $9 billion went into “operating and maintaining” the bus, $4.3 billion went into maintenance and $6.4 billion went into the other costs associated with operating the bus, such as fuel and food.
Of the $9 billion, $5.5 billion went to transportation and bus operations, $2
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