GAO Report Highlights Duplicative Programs In Government
During the 2010 debt ceiling debate, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma placed an amendment on the bill requiring that the GAO conduct a 3 year study of duplicate programs in the federal government. The possibility that programs overlapped or were completely identical was a near certainty.
In last year’s report the GAO highlighted 81 duplicative programs in the federal government. The GAO recommended that Congress study these programs and determine if they were in fact needed, could be reduced, or eliminated all together. The reduction and elimination of duplicative programs in the 2011 report could save taxpayers billions in spending. To date agencies have fully addressed 4 of the 81 programs and partially addressed 60, leaving 17 untouched.
Today’s report details 32 different areas where the government can reduce waste and increase efficiency. Among those include:
- Letting a tax credit for ethanol expire because it duplicates other identical tax credits in place (savings of $5.7 billion annually)
- Reducing top-heavy management and overlapping positions in the State Department.
- Consolidating some of the 209 different science, technology, engineering and math(STEM) education programs. (173 of which overlap)
- Eliminating or consolidating some of the 15 major financial literacy programs, including 3 new programs created by the Dodd-Frank Reform
Overall today’s report holds the possibility of saving taxpayers billions in spending. Although without the GAO’s disclosure of this report, most of the agencies would never know of the duplicative programs. As a result Sen. Coburn filed the Taxpayer Right to Know Act, requiring each agency to compile a list of operating programs in their budget and reporting that list to Congress.
Kenneth Baer, spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget, says, “Wasteful duplication of programs and overlap of effort has been around for a long time, as programs keep getting added without realizing what is there already.” To those of us not on Capitol Hill, it makes sense that you won’t get better results, without actually accounting for the programs you have first.
Hopefully Congress will stop creating duplicative programs, act on the GAO’s recommendations and pass real oversight for government agencies. Otherwise we will continue to spend hundreds of billions on programs that as Sen. Coburn says, “are producing little or no value for taxpayers.”