Sunday, September 11, 2011

Carter Returns: Zero Based Budgeting and Broccoli

Those of us who remember the distant past better than today will know that President Carter was elected on a promise to make the government more efficient and effective by moving to zero based budgeting.  That's why the federal government has been so great over the last 35 years.

Now the Senate Ag committee is directing USDA to do the same:
The Committee believes it is necessary to carefully examine each agency’s budget requirements from a zero base, rather than by reviewing only incremental changes as they occur year to year. Such a change in method would both assist the Committee’s appropriating and oversight responsibilities and it will also require agencies to systematically examine all of their budgetary requirements on an annual basis to ensure they relate properly to their mission within the Department. Therefore, the Committee directs the Secretary to develop and present USDA’s fiscal year 2013 budget requirements from a zero base and such presentation should include an examination and justification of each program, project, and activity and allocation of FTEs and related items. The Secretary is further instructed to provide a report to the Committee on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress by November 1, 2011, on the status of this directive.

Other nuggets from the report:

On reorganization, which must:
"follow a thoughtful analysis of implications for budgetary resources, services to customers and employees, and inherent dynamics within the Department that might result. Toward that objective, before moving forward with the implementation of any substantive reorganization, the Department is instructed to conduct a detailed analysis of the savings, efficiencies, and implications of these changes. In addition, an understanding of the methodology used for determining these factors and some form of demonstration of the results anticipated is required. Any timetable for implementation of the changes suggested obviously will be driven by the fiscal resources available and it may be prudent to give consideration to a tiered implementation as conditions dictate rather than a full scale Departmental shift that would be far more complex and potentially expensive. The Secretary is instructed to provide a report, consistent with the guidance outlined above, to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress not less than 60 days prior to the implementation of any Departmental reorganization. The Secretary is further reminded of the reprogramming instructions set forth elsewhere in this bill for the purpose of any implementation stage of a proposed reorganization.

My interpretation: Vilsack--be very very careful about reorganizing.
Broccoli Production.—The Committee has been informed that the Department has dedicated funding toward spurring broccoli production in the eastern United States. The Committee is aware that that farmers have invested considerable amounts of time and private funding into research on soils, crop management practices, and new broccoli varieties to develop and maintain a successful broccoli production industry on the East Coast. The Committee directs the USDA to work to ensure that Departmental efforts do not compete with or detrimentally affect privately owned, family-farm business operations.

My interpretation: don't encourage new broccoli farmers because we want to protect the existing one.s

No comments: