With all the wrangling in Congress over government spending, the impact of sequestration cuts and the need for fiscal conservancy, you'd think that all sides could agree that we need to focus more on cutting wasteful spending and fraud.
The federal government has done a little in recent years to eliminate duplication and realize cost savings between the various agencies, but an inspector general's report released last week highlighted fraudulent tax refunds issued by the Internal Revenue Service.
According to the Associated Press, the IRS issued a staggering $4 billion in fraudulent tax returns last year to people using stolen identities. This is the same agency that came under fire for targeting some political groups - both conservative and liberal - for extra scrutiny, but apparently the agency has a bigger problem in identifying and stopping identity theft.
According to the Associated Press, the IRS sent a total of 655 tax refunds to a single address in Lithuania. How does that happen without some red flags being raised? In another example, the IRS sent 343 refunds to a single address in Shanghai.
The IRS says that identity theft is a major problem, and that they continue to improve processes to fight it. Last year, the Associated Press reported, the IRS stopped more than $12 billion in fraudulent returns. That was up from $8 billion the year before.
The IRS may provide the latest glaring example of government inefficiency, but it isn't alone. For years, Medicare and Medicaid have been plagued by those who continually try to bilk the system for profit, and other government programs see similar problems that, combined, cost us billions upon billions each year.
Creating a cross-agency team of experts to thwart fraud, waste and abuse thoughout all government programs would be an expense that would pay for itself a hundred times over. As members of Congress look for things that they can agree on in the budget discussions, this is one priority that should be a no-brainer.