GAO: Government wastes billions on duplicative programs

The federal government is wasting billions of dollars on fragmented, overlapping and duplicative programs, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released Tuesday.

In its third annual report to Congress, GAO identified 17 areas of duplication and 14 areas where the federal government has missed opportunities to achieve cost savings or enhance revenue collection.

To address these issues, GAO offered 81 actions Congress or the executive branch can take to help correct the matters, from canceling programs to strengthening oversight and reducing funding.

“The bottom line is that there are still many opportunities for government agencies to become more efficient, and re-examination of the range of programs and services that they’re offering, also greater coordination with other agencies is a key point of the series of reports that we’re putting out in this area,” said Janet St. Laurent, managing director of defense capabilities and management at GAO. “Also, we’ve been finding that many programs need to be more fully evaluated to ensure that taxpayers are getting their full services from those programs.”


Some of the highlights of duplicative government spending include:

  • Agencies spent billions on new mapping data without checking if another government agency had maps it could use.
  • 23 different government programs centered on renewable energy.
  • Each military branch is developing camouflage uniforms without sharing with the other services.

“At a time of increased budget pressure, American taxpayers cannot afford to keep buying the same service twice,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said in a released statement.

In the previous two years, GAO presented a combined 131 areas and 300 actions where opportunities existed to improve government efficiency.

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