“…The Bureaucracy Always Expands. It Never Contracts…”

The words of David Williams, vice president of policy for watchdog Citizens Against Government Waste. He is commenting in a story from Fox News that reports that there are some 1,000 government “advisory committees” with some 74,000 members burning up some $400 million in taxpayer money (the expected tab in 2011).

The federal government hosts a network of 1,000 advisory panels that consisted of more than 74,000 members last year, and they are becoming increasingly expensive — statistics kept by the federal government show the cost of running these committees has nearly doubled over the past decade.

Though the staggering number of committees has remained fairly constant during that time, the bill they rack up every year has grown rapidly, from $215 million in fiscal year 2000 to $386 million last fiscal year. The collective budget is projected to top $400 million for the 2011 budget year.

It’s unclear why the price tag is rising so much at a time when inflation is not, though the bulk of the increase can be found in the cost of paying federal staff who work for these committees. That has some government watchdogs and lawmakers paying attention, and questioning whether Washington really needs tens of thousands of committee members advising the public on everything from pesticides to actuarial examinations.

If you want to see where your money is being wasted, go here.

To be clear, some of these panels may actually be doing something useful, but the odds are that they are not:

A 2010 report showed just 8 percent of committee recommendations had been or will be fully implemented.

Many of the members of these advisory boards serve with no direct pay – but they do get travel paid for and per diem when meeting. The few I checked out on the database (I have no intention of going hand over hand through every one of these group’s charters and requests) had all asked for increased funding for this fiscal year and more staff/staff time.

There is an opportunity to dismantle some of the ever-expanding bureaucracy. Review all of these and cut the ones that are simply not worth keeping. Sure, it’s not a lot of money relative to the Federal deficit. But $400 million here and $400 million there, pretty soon you’re talking real money.

Or just give the $400 million to me and I’ll take over advisory duties for the Federal government. Trust me.

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