Some of the cost savings claimed by Vice President Al Gore's project to streamline government were overstated, and other cuts in expenses can't be substantiated, according to auditors who looked at changes in three agencies.
According to the General Accounting Office, Gore's "reinventing government" project claimed $21.8 billion in savings in which the project lacked evidence to support, inflated savings by double-counting cost cuts, and took credit for savings that may have been the result of other efforts to cut government bureaucracy.
Project officials also neglected to take into account expenses that offset some of the savings, said the GAO, Congress' auditing and investigative arm.
White House officials disputed the GAO findings and said offsets to the savings were accounted for, but acknowledged that savings were overstated by several hundred million dollars. They added that the reinventing project is on track to save an estimated $137 billion and characterized the GAO's findings as "an arcane debate about accounting."
"What really matters is that government is smaller than it's been since the Kennedy administration, and it operates better, more efficiently and is saving taxpayers money," said Linda Ricci, spokeswoman at the White House Office of Management and Budget, which calculated the savings estimates for Gore's project.