Feds Waste Billions by Ignoring ‘Roadmaps’ to Savings

By Published on April 13, 2016

Federal agencies are ignoring dozens of recommendations from a congressional watchdog that could save billions of tax dollars and help government programs achieve their intended purposes, according to a report made public Wednesday.

The Government Accountability Office’s annual duplication report found 37 new areas of bureaucratic duplication, fragmentation and overlap in the executive branch and offered 92 new recommendations on ways to eliminate such problems.

The congressional watchdog has recommended 544 cost-saving actions to Congress and executive branch officials affecting more than 200 areas of government activity. Only 41 percent of those recommendations have been implemented but the savings total $56 billion and will reach $69 billion in the next decade.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz  expressed frustration that more of the GAO’s recommendations aren’t quickly adopted. The recommendations provide “a roadmap” to big savings, he said.

“Why do we need to come back year after year to discuss the same actions?” said Chaffetz, a Utah Republican. “Taking action at just three agencies—the Department of Defense, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Internal Revenue Service—if we did just those three, we would save literally billions upon billions of dollars.”

Chaffetz said “more than half of all corrective actions in GAO’s annual reports are directed at these three agencies, yet, all three agencies have more than 60 percent of recommended actions still open.”

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson noted in a statement that GAO began doing the duplication reports as a result of an amendment sponsored by retired Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican who was known for exposing waste and fraud in government.

Tens of billions in savings for taxpayers has already been realized as the result of former Senator Coburn’s amendment requiring the GAO to issue its duplication reports,” said Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican.

“This report highlights how important it is for the administration to take the GAO’s remaining recommendations seriously,”Johnson said. “Taxpayers shouldn’t be paying the price for Washington’s wasteful duplication.”

Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, GAO’s chief, cited an example of duplicative programs that Congress had moved to eliminate.

“We verified that legislation passed by Congress in December 2015 did not include authorization for 19  overlapping programs that were on our 2011 list of 82 distinct programs designed to improve teacher quality,” Dodaro said. “Using Department of Education data, GAO estimated the decision to not reauthorize saved approximately $800 million, based on fiscal year 2016 appropriations for these programs.”


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