Lankford’s ‘wastebook’ report roasts legacy IT spending

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) rang in “wastebook” season on Monday, highlighting the offbeat side of government spending.

Lankford, a member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the chairman of its federal management subcommittee, dedicated a section of this year’s wastebook on federal agency spending on legacy IT systems.

The Government Accountability Office found that in fiscal 2015, more than $55 billion out of the $80 billion spent on federal IT went toward maintaining outdated hardware and software.

“That means we have lots of spending going on in multiple agencies where the spending is happening in maintaining old legacy hardware and old legacy software, rather than dealing with the issues of how to handle and update technology for today,” Lankford said, during a press conference Monday.

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Lankford’s wastebook, an homage to his predecessor, former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), took a second glance at grants and regulations that need oversight, agency bureaucracy and inefficiency and a lack of coordination between agencies.

While the report offers recommendations that offer an estimated $250 billion in cost savings, Lankford said the wastebook is meant to encourage a way of thinking about government spending, rather than serve as a definitive list of all wasteful government programs.

“This is not intended to be exhaustive. This is a set of ideas to say this is the kind of stuff that we can look for and should look for,” Lankford said.

In recent years, other members of the Senate, including Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have compiled their own wastebooks.

Lankford told reporters that he has not yet shared his wastebook findings with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, but he expressed a willingness to work with the President-elect on waste-cutting measures, noting some successes he’s had with the Obama administration.

“We need to have this Congress more engaged in oversight. We need to have an administration engaged in oversight, and regardless of who’s in the White House or who’s in this Congress, we should address these issues,” Lankford said.

Working with the Obama administration, Lankford said he’s sought to revamp the Homeland Security Department’s human resources program, which he said has been problematic since the department was created.

“Their HR program, for the last 13 years, has failed to do some very basic combining of functions, and it’s just been a disaster,” Lankford said. “They have gone to great lengths to try to fix it. They punted their last plan and the plan before that, and said we’ve got a new plan that we’re going to put in place to try to move forward on that. Again, it’s our responsibility to be able to work with this DHS and the next one to make sure that actually gets implemented.”

On the subject of Trump’s campaign promises, Lankford declined to go into details over proposals that include a proposed $1 trillion infrastructure spending bill and a wall built along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We don’t have money to be able to spend on symbolism. We need to be able to actually have finances to be able to spend on solutions,” Lankford said.

In a recent YouTube video previewing his plans for his first 100 days in office, Trump said he would “formulate a rule which says that for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated.”

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