Remarks to Reporters on Progress Toward Achieving Integrity and Efficiency in Federal Programs

December 7, 1981

I've just met with the Inspectors General to receive their 6-month consolidated report on this administration's drive against fraud, waste, and mismanagement in the Federal Government. And I am happy -- and I really mean happy -- to announce that their report contains some very good news for the American taxpayer.

Last March, I signed an Executive order establishing the Council on Integrity and Efficiency. Its purpose was to form a new and more effective strike force against corruption and inefficiency in government by pooling the resources of the Inspector General, the FBI, the Department of Justice, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Office of Personnel Management. And in just 6 months, these gentlemen here and the others, their colleagues, in joint efforts authorized by our Executive order, have saved the taxpayers over $2 billion.

Now, you've heard me talk about the billions of dollars in delinquent debt that have been costing the honest taxpayers of this country $14 million a day. We're making progress now in collecting that debt, thanks to these gentlemen. Just this year in one department, we have collected $1 billion in delinquent debt. Now, I hope the Congress will act on the legislation that I have proposed that will enable us to collect $\1/2\ billion a year, which is presently beyond our reach.

The great majority of Federal employees are honest, hardworking, and dedicated to public service. But over the last 6 months, 145 Federal employees have been discharged as a result of the 16 investigations. Others may have voluntarily resigned to avoid the embarrassment of being fired.

In establishing the Council, I assured the American people that this was no cosmetic gesture but a serious, substantial step toward restoring government efficiency and thereby rebuilding public confidence in our political institutions. I promised that we'd follow every lead, root out every incompetent, and prosecute every crook that we found cheating the people of this Nation.

Well thanks to the dedication of these Inspectors General, this pledge has been and will continue to be kept. We're reducing fraud, improving management controls, eliminating errors in government programs and, by doing so, also providing a growing deterrent against future abuses.

I have just come from a meeting with this entire group and discovered that the few facts that I have in here only scratch the surface of what has actually been accomplished. Integrity and efficiency in managing government programs not only save the government money, they mean better service for those the programs are designed to serve -- the American people.

It's on behalf of the people that I extend my thanks to the Inspectors General for their valuable work and urge them to keep on being as mean as junkyard dogs when it comes to protecting the taxpayers. I again repeat my thanks and my congratulations to these men and women who have been doing this job. And as I say, I've only scratched the surface.

And now I've got to go meet the astronauts and ask why they didn't pick me up on their way around and take me to California. [Laughter]

Note: The President spoke at 10:49 a.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House following a meeting with the Inspectors General and members of the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency. The 92-page report is entitled, ``Addressing Fraud, Waste and Abuse, A Summary Report of Inspectors General Activities -- President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency, FY 1981 II.''