Sen. Coburn’s Upcoming Retirement and Its Effects on Grants

January 21, 2014 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

217px-Tom_Coburn_official_portrait_112th_CongressAt the end of this year, Congress will lose one of its strongest government watchdogs as Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) retires. Whether you agreed or disagreed with his politics, Coburn definitely will leave his mark as being one of the most tireless combatants of government waste. It will be interesting to see if someone else in Congress takes the “waste-fighting” baton and runs with it next year.

Colburn announced his retirement on Jan. 16, and soon after earned a tribute from Citizens Against Government Waste for his “tireless work” since being elected to the House in 1994, and later to the  Senate in 2004. “There are few members of Congress who have been more candid, articulate and successful in the fight against wasteful spending than Dr. Tom Coburn,” CAGW President Tom Schatz said. “We were proud to give Dr. Coburn the J. Peter Grace Award in 2007 in recognition of his leadership in the effort to eliminate government waste. … We sincerely thank Dr. Coburn for his service to his state and the nation and look forward to working with him both throughout the rest of 2014 and thereafter.”

Since 2009, Coburn had issued the “Wastebook,” which highlighted hundreds of examples of wasteful spending, ranging from projects costing billions of dollars down to those in the thousands. We here at Thompson always found it interesting to see which grant programs would be included in Coburn’s hit list. Sometimes I disagreed that the programs mentioned were true examples of waste, feeling that they actually did have merit, but other times I felt Coburn did have a sound argument.

Coburn’s effect on grants also can be felt in legislation. In 2006, Coburn and then Sen. Barack Obama were the sponsors of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (S. 2590), which established subrecipient reporting requirements for recipients of federal grants and created the website. The goal of the legislation was to help taxpayers follow where federal funds are spent, which again, furthers Coburn’s goal of reducing waste.

As he completes his final lap in Congress this year, it will be interesting to see what other programs Coburn sees as wasteful. You can bet I’ll be looking for his next “Wastebook” report.

What are your thoughts on Sen. Coburn’s efforts to fight waste? Let us know.



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