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Too-big-to-fail banks? Meet “too-big-to-control” government.

That’s the label House Republicans slapped on the Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday during a hearing on the agency’s spending. GOP members of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight subcommittee took turns shredding HHS spending on international travel, the agency’s growing payroll, funds purportedly used for spaying and neutering dogs and decisions to ignore Government Accountability Office recommendations to eliminate ineffective programs.

“It does appear that HHS is now too big to control,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). “It is very evident to us that you are too big to manage. You are too unwieldy. … You are spending money in ways that you ought not to be spending it.”

Norris Cochran, deputy assistant secretary of budget for HHS, told committee members that sharp increases in the number of full-time employees within the agency in recent years are largely attributable to ramped-up staffing at the Food and Drug Administration and the Indian Health Service. He also described efforts to eliminate paper files and consolidate data-collection functions of the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Not mentioned in that discussion was the creation of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight — the agency HHS set up to implement the health reform law.
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