WASHINGTON—Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) is a man on a mission to solve what he calls a “solvable” problem that causes the loss of hundreds of billions of tax dollars every year.
Asked why he is taking on a challenge that has defeated Democrats and Republicans in the nation’s capital for decades, Budd doesn’t hesitate to put the problem of waste, fraud, and corruption into perspective.
“It seems so doable, and it’s intriguing because it’s such a problem and it’s such a brand that the government has,” Budd told The Epoch Times on March 5. “It seems so solvable. That’s the short answer.”
Examples that illustrate the problem come readily to hand for Budd, who was first elected to the House of Representatives from the Tarheel State’s 13th Congressional District in 2016.
“What are you doing when you’ve got probably $170 billion just in improper payments a year and that’s just one thing,” he said. “You see 50-year-old software systems, I mean, it just goes on and on and on.”
Budd was referring to a recent Government Accounting Office (GAO) analysis that estimated the government sent $175 billion to the wrong or undeserving recipients in 2019, mostly in the form of Social Security and Medicare payments.
“Something is wrong in our structure here that we can’t solve visible problems that are not partisan,” Budd said. He thinks he was elected at an opportune moment to address such problems.
“I didn’t say I am optimistic. My intention here is I know for a fact that I will not be successful if I don’t attempt it. But the timing might be right. I might be in the right place when the lightning strikes, when the mood in both parties, in both houses of Congress, in the administration, line up.”
The issue of government agencies relying on obsolete computer technology is front and center for Budd, who in a recent “Budd’s Budget Busters” series statement pointed out that GAO estimates that 75 percent of the government’s annual information technology spending goes to supporting outdated legacy software programs.
“The Department of Justice and the Social Security Administration still operate a programming code from the 1950s and 1960s. The Department of the Treasury still uses a pair of nearly 60-year-old systems,” he said in the statement.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs maintains veterans’ benefits on a more than 50-year-old system. Most incredibly, the Department of Defense uses an over 50-year-old system of eight-inch floppy disks in the operation of our country’s nuclear arsenal.
“As the tech revolution continues to affect every aspect of our lives, we have to make sure that our government isn’t left in the dust. The private sector can be a vital resource for demonstrating how to effectively modernize using cutting edge tools like cloud technology.
“That’s why Congress should perform enhanced oversight in the form of hearings and testimony and enact new legislation where it would be needed. Agencies and departments should be held accountable for the glacial pace of technological change in the federal bureaucracy.”
In another example, Budd said the federal government pays for more than 10,000 buildings that are either partially or completely unused; he estimated that selling them could save taxpayers at least $15 billion in five years.
“Nothing should be more frustrating to a taxpayer than to see their hard-earned dollars pay to lease vacant buildings that the federal government has no intention of ever using,” Budd said in a statement.
“This is a prime example of what happens when federal agencies are not held accountable for failing to use basic best practices from the private sector. That’s why I’m planning to introduce legislation to force agencies to either use their property or let taxpayers off the hook.”
The 47-year-old Budd knows something about making the best use of business properties. He comes from a family that has built a hugely successful business—The Budd Group, based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina—that specializes in providing facilities management services to companies throughout the southeastern United States, plus Indiana.
As a young man, Budd worked in the company’s janitorial and landscaping divisions, where he says he “learned the importance of work ethic and common-sense decision making.”
The Budd Group describes itself as a firm that “strives to be a God-honoring company of excellence.” That faith is a family thing for the Budds is also seen in the fact that the congressman earned a master’s degree in educational leadership and family life from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1998.
He’s also an enthusiastic member of the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus and a member of the House Financial Services Committee, serving on the panel’s Task Force on Artificial Intelligence.
And Budd is indeed focused like a laser on the problem of waste, telling The Epoch Times, “I’m here for the opportunity, I know what I need to do, and I will push towards it and I will be ready when things line up.”
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc