The Office of Management and Budget has directed federal agencies to cut nonsecurity spending by five percent in fiscal year (FY) 2012. Federal agencies are currently preparing their FY 2012 budget proposals. The announcement comes just months after President Obama proposed a three year freeze on nonmilitiary, discretionary spending. The move is being touted by some as needed fiscal restraint that will help to control a ballooning federal deficit.

According to Peter Orszag, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget: “We are asking those nonsecurity agencies to specify how they would reduce their budgets by 5 percent, which will give us the ability to achieve the overall nonsecurity freeze even while meeting inevitable new needs and priorities.”

What this could ultimately mean is that some programs could receive new funding in FY 2012 while others experience budget cuts from the FY 2011 level. “What we’re aiming for is an overall freeze. By asking each agency to come back with something at minus five [percent], we’re creating the room to plus-up some [programs], reduce others and what have you, so that we can continue to hit that overall freeze,” said Orszag at an event at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC, on 8 June 2010.

In addition, the White House has asked all federal agencies, including those with security missions, to develop a list of programs that are least critical to the agency’s mission. The exercise is intended to help agencies prioritize programmatic spending.

In his speech, Orszag also highlighted several areas of redundant programs and potentially wasteful spending. “[W]e cannot afford to waste money on programs that do not work, that are outdated or that are duplicative of one another. And yet, right now, there are over 110 funded programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education across 14 different departments and agencies within the federal government; over 100 programs that support youth mentoring scattered across 13 agencies; and more than 40 programs located in 11 different departments with responsibility for employment and training.”


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