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Napolitano Outlines Plan to Trim Spending, Secure Border

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano outlines her agency's plan to trim spending and reacts to concerns over the rising tide of drug violence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And to our Newsmaker interview with Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. Judy Woodruff spoke with her at the Department of Homeland Security earlier today.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Secretary Janet Napolitano, thank you very much for talking with us.

    JANET NAPOLITANO, secretary of Homeland Security: Thank you.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    You were just at the White House today talking about how to save money with regard to what the government buys, who it hires to do work for it. With all due respect, just about every president we can remember has come into office talking about saving money, being more efficient, waste, fraud and abuse. Why should we believe it will be any different with this president?

  • JANET NAPOLITANO:

    Well, President Obama has made it a priority and a very public one. And we have to report to the White House and to the people how the stimulus money is being spent. We're going to post it on the Internet.

    And part of being in the cabinet is, agency by agency, going through and really looking at what we're spending money on. Are we doing it in the best way, the most efficient way?

    I'm building on my own experience as governor of Arizona, where we really looked, you know, across the lines of government at things like what you're paying for utilities and contractors and consultants versus employees, your fleet management, the amount you pay for travel and training. There are other ways to accomplish some of those things so that you can reserve more money for the mission-critical functions of the government.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    But isn't there always institutional resistance to making some of these changes? How hard is it to do the kinds of things you're talking about?

  • JANET NAPOLITANO:

    Well, some of it is pretty easy, once it's identified. One of the ways you fight institutional resistance is you include the actual institution.

    For example, in the Department of Homeland Security, we're setting up a way so that employees can give us their ideas of things that they are spending time on or see money being spent on that they think could better be used elsewhere. So that's one way you do it.

    Sometimes you can't go back immediately and rewrite what's been done. You have to let projects get finished, because it would be more expensive to cancel them than to simply continue them, more expensive, say, to disallow a contract rather than to have it completed, that sort of thing.

    That requires analysis. That means you've really got to look at it line item by line item.

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