380 ways to make the government more efficient (Video)

U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is taking a stab at the government inefficiency beast. The committee is set to hold a hearing on 380 ways to make Washington more efficient.

The number 380 comes from congressional reports outlining 380 areas of government waste and duplication. Yet despite the catchy title, governtment watchers aren't getting too excited.

“Oh, here we go again," says Paul Light, who teaches public service at New York University. “This is like watching Casa Blanca for the hundredth time.”

Light says there have been many efficiency efforts, but they usually die away because they require painful change. That hasn’t stopped just about every president from trying. Light says a Clinton administration initiative to reinvent government did have some success. It was spear headed by Vice President Al Gore, who smashed an expensive government-approved ash tray on the David Letterman show to promote it.

Gore’s initiative sprang from a reinventing government book co-authored by Ted Gaebler. It’s now printed in 22 languages. “Just last year into Mongolian," says Gaebler.  "The year before that in Farsi. So the Iranians are using it.”

Gaebler says he’s always getting international requests for cost-cutting advice. But he hasn’t gotten any calls from the U.S. government. 

Got ideas for the government that worked for you? Tell us in the comments.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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