Reducing Waste in Government: Addressing GAO’s 2013 Report on Duplicative Federal Programs

Witness and Testimony Documents
Comptroller General of the United States
U.S. Government Accountability Office
April 09, 2013, 2:00 p.m. in 2154 Rayburn House Office Building
Chairman Issa Hearing Preview Statement
Reducing Waste in Government: Addressing GAO’s 2013 Report on Duplicative Federal Programs
Today’s hearing will focus on GAO’s third annual report on areas of duplication within the federal government. In its past reports, GAO has made almost 300 recommendations among 131 issue areas to Congress and the Executive Branch to reduce costs and end duplicative, fractured, and overlapping programs. As of today, only 16 of the 131 issues have been fully addressed.At a time of increased budget pressure, American taxpayers cannot afford to keep buying the same service twice. According to the report: “Collectively, these reports show that, if the actions are implemented, the government could potentially save tens of billions of dollars annually.”

This year’s report also highlights 17 new areas of duplication, fragmentation, or overlap of government programs, and 14 new areas of cost savings.

I am pleased to say that this committee has already been responsive to the GAO’s non-partisan recommendations – several new cost-savings recommendations from GAO would be addressed by the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, approved unanimously by this Committee last month.

Today, GAO is launching an online dashboard featuring information about each issue area and the steps taken by agencies to address it. This will allow the American people to hold Congress and the Administration accountable for our efforts on an ongoing basis.

There is one way in which today’s report falls short. However, it is through no fault of the Comptroller General or his excellent staff.

While the report does note that the recommendations would save tens of billions of dollars annually, there is no detailed cost-saving associated with each recommendation.

This is because federal agencies often cannot tell us how much money is spent on a particular program. Federal agencies also lack meaningful performance metrics for its programs. In fact, Federal agencies cannot even provide a simple list of all programs in their own agency.

It is important to reduce duplication wherever possible, and today’s hearing will focus on ways to do that. But we must also focus this Congress on improving the way the federal government collects and produces information so that Congress and the American people can make better informed decisions.