The Washington Times - July 28, 2009, 10:03AM

The Obama Administration has found a way to cut $100 million from the federal budget and one of the items on the chopping block is an office inside the Department of Labor that helps manage oversight of labor unions, among other things.

Pursuant to President Obama’s April order that federal agencies come up with a way to eliminate $100 million in wasteful spending, White House Budget Chief Peter Orzsag and Cabinet Secretary Christopher Lu issued a 20-page list of items to cut to the president on Monday.

One of the proposed cost-saving measures is to “disband” the Employment Standards Administration, a part of the Department of Labor that houses the Office of Labor Standards Management, which has the power to audit and investigate labor unions for corruption and embezzlement.

Mr. Orzsag and Mr. Lu said eliminating the ESA’s Assistant Secretary and two Deputy Assistant Secretary positions and administration office would save $1.75 million over the next ten years.

Labor spokeswoman Dolline Hatchett said the change would improve oversight within the Department of Labor. “The reorganization will abolish the ESA umbrella organization and name but will maintain the four component programs — the Wage and Hour Division, the Office of Labor Management Standards, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, and the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs,” she said in an email. “The resulting streamlined organizational structure will significantly improve policy decision-making with respect to the four individual programs, as well as enhance the department’s responsiveness in enforcing key worker protection laws.”


The ESA closure was the only shutdown suggested on the list.

Other proposed cuts on the list appeared to be more minor. The Forest Service, for example, said they could save $1.8 million by making a decision to “no longer repaint newly purchased vehicles.” The Department of Justice is doing their part by giving up their travel agents and making their travel reservations online, saving $4 million.  The Department of Agriculture found their Animal and Plant Inspection Services team could save $76,000 by canceling trips to Australia and Asia and possibly replacing them with conference calls.

“These proposals vary widely both in their content and in the scope of the savings they would produce,” Mr. Orzsag and Mr. Lu wrote in their memo to the president. “They range from a Department of Defense plan to save $52 million in FY 2010 by replacing the JP-8, the standard jet used by the military, with commercial Jet A fuel plus the military additives to a plan submitted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to digitize daily news clips—saving $1,0000 per year for FY 2009-10. This variety of proposals reflects your guidance that even small savings can add up to make an extraordinary difference.”