OTR Interviews

Issa: We haven't given up on Benghazi, issuing subpoenas to witnesses

New Government Accountability Office report finds 162 areas where services are duplicated or money is being wasted by the federal government


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 9, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, you heard that right, three different agencies inspecting catfish, 679 overlapping renewable energy programs and seven different camouflaged uniforms for the military, all with different colors and patterns, of course. Sound like a waste of your tax dollars? The Government Accountability Office says, yes, it is, the GAO reporting the government could save billions -- that is billions with a B -- by just cutting out wasteful overlap.

House Oversight Committee chair Darrell Issa joins us. Your thought tonight about this report, sir?

REP. DARRELL ISSA, R-CALIF.: Well, it's a reality that unless we re-engineer government, we're going to continue to see this. This is to a great extent a similar to what we had last year and the year before. And very few of these changes were implemented, about 20 percent.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's the insanity of it! Why are we even spending money to have the GAO even go out and do these reports if we don't do anything about it? Now we're wasting more money by having the GAO do a study that we're never going to do anything about!

ISSA: Well, the GAO is a bargain. You get about $106 back in implemented savings for every dollar they spend.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do they need this extra work just to go out and do reports, to try to figure out where waste is -- we could just use last year's?

ISSA: Well, they, in fact, build on last year. But Greta, you're exactly right. If we cannot get to where this is what goes on instead of sequestration, then the American people have a right to be fed up. Truth is that many of the cuts that people are so upset about are cuts across the board that only slightly touch bad and duplicate programs. Well, in fact, we could save a tremendous amount.

A good example is, in fact, the Department of Defense and those uniforms. What's the point of having a secretary of defense and a whole staff if, in fact, he lets little fiefdoms in ever part of the military do their own thing again and again?

One of the ones that isn't as sexy but it's interesting is how many times we bought the same maps, mapping programs simply because one agency didn't bother to see if somebody else was already essentially mapping the world.

VAN SUSTEREN: Or they could go on line and Google it probably! They don't even have to -- they don't even have to probably go out and hire somebody!

ISSA: And one of the things that came out was many of these are completely within the authority of the Office of Management and Budget. These are things they simply have to do the job they've been told to do and agreed to do, including the fact that under sworn testimony, we were told that our earlier figure of about $80 billion in IT spending is certainly at least $100 billion, if you include the fact that OMB hasn't even gotten everyone to report what they spend.

It's those kinds of changes that cause us -- waste that cause us to want to have real legislative changes, the Data Act to mandate a reporting structure so we can see what is there and force it to change.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, here are the two questions. One is the fact that it's -- it's sort of annoying that we're having this conversation one year later and that virtually nothing was done and all this money has been wasted one more year when a lot of hard-working American people are trying to make ends meet. I mean, that -- you know, that is the first problem.

The second problem is this oversight is always after it's wasted. We never -- we never decide to do oversight to make sure that these people are doing their jobs in the first place so they don't even have the opportunity to waste. All we do is we have these hearings and we discover that they're having these huge conferences and spending ridiculous amount of moneys for, you know, as I would say, the bathtub picture was my favorite where the two glasses of wine don't match, and we paid almost a million dollars on a conference.

But you know, it's, like, you know -- you know, really, is that we depend on you, you know, and your committee to do the oversight so that we don't have these problems! And we just sit and watch and are horrified!

ISSA: Well, this is one of the reasons that we're still working on Fast and Furious, so it doesn't happen again. We're still working on Benghazi so it doesn't happen again. We're looking at a half a billion dollars of really -- really wrongful procurement that went on with the IRS, that, in fact, they're standing behind a procurement that essentially claims a special set-aside for disadvantaged people, and there are no disadvantaged people in the whole company.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, let's talk about Benghazi. You picked that one up. That's one that your party is very upset in the House about. But you have the authority to issue a subpoena and order people to come and answer questions. It just doesn't get done! If you want -- if you want to hear from somebody, you want to hear from someone who was there on the ground when it happened, the best way to do it is just drop a subpoena on somebody! And if you don't know their names, drop it on someone at the State Department, demanding the names! Drop it to get the employment records! I mean, you can get that information. You have the power to subpoena. You're the majority!

ISSA: Greta, we use the power of subpoena. We have received several thousand documents. We've had to go over them manually on paper. My people have gone through page by page. We've gleaned many of the people we want to talk to. We are contacting whistleblowers. Whistleblowers are contacting us.

We're not giving up on it. We're not going to give up on dead people that shouldn't be dead. And all those men and women in the State Department, CIA, that out there wondering if the same thing happens to them, will there be a plan to save them? There wasn't at Benghazi.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me quickly go to Fisker Automotive. You're planning to have April 24th hearings. That's another investment where we've -- apparently, $192 million just down the drain of taxpayer money.

ISSA: And was predictably going to be down the drain. Understand, this was a design shop who came in with a pretty car design but no ability to make cars and said, Give me money, when nobody else would give money.

You know, one of the dirty little secrets about Fisker is they were paid a million dollars by Tesla, another electric car company, to design something. And they basically hijacked that design and went off and got their own government money.

VAN SUSTEREN: Can we get our money back? Can we get ahead of the line in the creditors?

ISSA: You know, I'd love it if we could. But as you and I know, we respect the bankruptcy laws. And in some cases, our government has screwed up enough in first in line. In the case of Fisker, we will be relatively first in line, but there won't be much there because there never was anything there, Greta.

This was a pretty design and a company that was formed around it. That's not how you build new industries, especially when you have other options. You understand that Fisker is essentially a pretty version of a Prius. It is an electric plug-in hybrid...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I -- I...

ISSA: ... and as a result, it was money...

VAN SUSTEREN: I look for...

ISSA: ... for something that was already being made.

VAN SUSTEREN: I look forward to the April 24th hearing, sir. Nice to see you.

ISSA: Thank you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Always nice to see you.