When government is actually cheap

Via Kevin Drum, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a wonderful chart detailing the actual administrative cost of several federal social programs:

For those keeping track, this is a ridiculously low overhead. We are talking about vast, tens or hundred billion dollar programs with millions of recipients  that spend 5% on administrative costs. Even the most inefficient of these programs, housing vouchers, spends more than 90% of its budget in actual benefits, despite the fact that is managed in cooperation with more than 2,400 state and local agencies. EITC, the biggest federal anti-poverty program, has 1% administrative costs.

All in all, those are amazing figures - even more so when taking into account that most of these administration costs come from eligibility determination, not actually bureaucracy. Means-testing programs can actually end up costing more money that it saves.


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