Wisconsin Congressman Gallagher Reintroduces Bipartisan Bill Targeting Over-budget, Behind-Schedule Projects

U.S. Representatives Mike Gallagher (R-WI-8) and Katie Porter (D-CA-47) are pushing for passage of their reintroduced Billion Dollar Boondoggle Act, a bill to publicize which federal projects are dramatically over budget or behind schedule. 

The measure instructs the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to generate an annual report on all projects that run at least $1 billion over initially authorized expenses or whose completion takes at least five years longer than originally scheduled. 

“In Congress, we can’t be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars if we treat the mismanagement of multibillion-dollar government projects like business as usual,” Gallagher said in a statement. “Requiring the federal government to report on projects that are over budget or behind schedule is the least we can do to increase transparency, provide accountability, and ensure these boondoggles don’t become bottomless money pits.”

The annual report the OMB would produce if the legislation becomes law would include descriptions of the overly costly or lengthy projects; explications of any changes made in the projects’ designs or constructions; and the amounts of incentive fees, bonuses or awards given in association with the endeavors. 

“If federal projects are over budget or behind schedule, taxpayers deserve answers as to why,” Porter said. “Congress has a duty to the American people to verify that tax dollars are being used responsibly, and this bipartisan legislation helps us meet that obligation to hold federal agencies accountable.”

According to a 2015 report from the libertarian, D.C.-based Cato Institute, energy, transportation and defense projects are often among the items that most often end up costing more than budgeted. Cost overruns go back to the early years of the Republic; the construction of the Erie Canal, which began in 1817, an eight-year undertaking, cost 46 percent more than initially anticipated and the creation of the Panama Canal from 1902 to 1913 exceeded its initial budget by 106 percent.

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Wisconsin Daily Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Mike Gallagher” by Mike Gallagher. Background Photo “Wisconsin Capitol” by Carol M. Highsmith.


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