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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 25, 2001
President's Radio Address
10:06 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Congress will shortly return to Washington to make its final spending decisions for 2002. A new budget report, released this past week, shows that despite the economic slowdown that began in the third quarter of last year, the federal budget is strong, healthy and in balance. In fact, the 2002 budget surplus will be the second biggest surplus in American history.
The report also shows we are funding our nation's priorities, meeting our commitments to Social Security and Medicare, reducing taxes and still retiring record amounts of debt. This is a great achievement, and it happened because Congress worked with me this spring to agree to a responsible total level of spending.
Congress also worked with me to cut income taxes for the first time in a generation -- the right policy at exactly the right time to boost our sagging economy. The faster our economy grows, the stronger the federal budget will be.
The greatest threat to our budget outlook is the danger that Congress will be tempted this fall to break its earlier commitments by spending too much. The old way in Washington is to believe that the more you spend, the more you care. What mattered was the size of the line in the budget, not the effect of that line on real people's lives. My administration takes a new approach. We want to spend your hard-earned money as carefully as you do. And when we spend the people's money, we insist on results.
Today, my Office of Management and Budget is releasing a report identifying 14 long-neglected management problems in the federal government, and offering specific solutions to fix them. For example, the United States government is the world's single largest purchaser of computers and other technologies for gathering and using information. In 2002, we will spend $45 billion on information technology. That's more than we've budgeted for highways and roads. Yet so far, and unlike private sector companies, this large investment has not cut the government's cost or improved people's lives in any way we can measure.
Another example: the General Accounting Office has, year after year, found that the federal student aid programs are run in ways that make them vulnerable to fraud and waste. And year after year, virtually nothing has been done to make sure that federal aid intended for needy students goes only to the needy.
With the help of congressional leaders like Senator Fred Thompson, we are going to take on these problems, and others like them, with a focused, targeted reform agenda. We'll introduce greater competition into government and make government more attentive to citizens.
Americans demand top-quality service from the private sector. They should get the same top-quality service from their government. I've asked Cabinet secretaries and agency heads to name a chief operating officer, who will be held accountable for the performance of that agency. These officers will make up the President's Management Council, to build a leadership team that listens, learns and innovates.
Taxpayers work hard to earn the money they send the government. Government should work equally hard to ensure that the money is spent wisely. I will work with Congress to build a government that is responsive to the people's needs, and responsible with our people's money.
Thank you very much for listening.