November 27, 2014

GAO Spotlights Duplication

The federal government could save tens of billions of dollars a year by rooting out duplicative and inefficient programs, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The report recommends that Congress and the administration examine 51 areas -- 32 where duplication exists and 19 other opportunities to reduce wasteful spending or enhance revenue.

For example, four separate government agencies administered 53 different programs to assist budding entrepreneurs at a cost of $2.6 billion in Fiscal Year 2010. Other examples of duplication included 21 programs in five different agencies to prevent overseas nuclear smuggling.

The GAO said billions could also be saved by reducing agricultural payments and promoting competition when awarding federal contracts. Meanwhile, improving Internal Revenue Service enforcement and service capabilities could yield more revenue.

This is the second such report since a 2010 amendment sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) required GAO to investigate ways to eliminate government duplication and waste.  Last year’s report identified 81 areas where the government could be more efficient.

The GAO says the government fully acted on only four of these areas. It partially addressed 60 and failed to tackle the rest.

While some of GAO’s recommendations are relatively small, it is important to root out waste and duplication whenever possible. Failure to do so lowers public trust in government and makes it harder to win public support for the more difficult decisions that must ultimately be made on spending and tax policies.