Master Public Administration Waste in Government—always a nice term, sounds like it means something. What you will see as you go through these readings i

  

Waste in Government—always a nice term, sounds like it means something. 

What you will see as you go through these readings is the difficulty of agreement 

(as understood through public opinion polls)–what government waste means, or 

what we agree upon to exactly go after. The Government Accountability Office 

(GAO) report is quite long —you want to read parts of it but not 

necessarily the whole thing. What you need to get out of that report is to 

understand the specifics associated with going after waste (or in the case of that 

report—duplication or overlap). 

Talk about the difficulty of agreement on the public side regarding 

going after government waste (as you can understand it through the readings 

addressing public opinion polls) and then get to specifics on what to go after, why, 

and how. A friend (an elected official) jokes about government critics: That 

particular person defines a government critic as someone with a driver’s license, 

they just don’t know where they are going.  

demonstrate that you have some understanding of the issues associated with 

where you are going. It is easy to criticize in some general, vague sort of way—it 

is difficult to get to specifics. “Big government” is always one of those terms that 

seems to mean something on a nightly cable news show, the specifics on how 

exactly to cut “waste” out of Social Security, Medicare, defense spending, well 

that’s a different story. 

A 2008 survey asked respondents if they had used any of 21 different Federal 

government social programs including Social Security, unemployment benefits, or 

student loans. Of those respondents, 94 percent said they had not used any 

government social program, when, in fact, they had. The average number of 

programs used was four. The actor, Craig Nelson, in an interview with Glen Beck, 

when he was on FOX News, said, “I’ve been on food stamps, anyone help me 

out?” seeming to miss the contradiction of his statement. No doubt, Nelson (as 

well as Beck) think of themselves as critics of Big Government that is filled with 

waste, but probably have difficulty getting to the specifics—the generalizations 

are good enough. the generalizations are not good enough—

get to the specifics: What are you addressing and why and how do you look at the 

money saved? 

1) should be a minimum of five typed double spaced) 

2) Do discuss some of the specifics in the GAO report 

3) After reading the pieces addressing public opinion polls how do they give 

you some insight into how to understand what can and cannot be 

accomplished. You need to understand that the public, in many ways, is a 

brake upon what public officials can achieve: Public officials cannot be way 

out in front of the public, public opinion, or public understanding, often 

provides the parameters within which policy options, policy choices, can 

feasibly exist. 

4) Notice how the readings address the topic of government waste quite 

differently than what exists on the nightly cable news shows—do 

incorporate those readings 

Report to Congressional Addressees

March 2011

GAO-11-318SP

United States Government Accountability Office

GAO

Opportunities to
Reduce Potential
Duplication in
Government
Programs, Save Tax
Dollars, and Enhance
Revenue

1

Contents

Letter

Section I GAO Identified Areas of Potential Duplication,

Overlap, and Fragmentation, Which, if Effectively

Addressed, Could Provide Financial and

Other Benefits 5

Section II Other GAO-Identified Cost-Saving and

Revenue-Enhancing Areas 155

Appendix I List of Congressional Addressees 334

Appendix II Objectives, Scope, and Methodology 336

Page i GAO-11-318SP

Abbreviations

AC Bureau of Arms Control
AFR Agency Financial Report
AFV alternative fuel vehicle
AHLTA Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology

Application
ARS Agricultural Research Service
ATF Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
AUR Automated Underreporter Program
BEA business enterprise architecture
BEST Border Enforcement Security Task Force
BLM Bureau of Land Management
BOEMRE Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and

Enforcement
BPA blanket purchase agreement
BRAC base realignment and closure
CBP Customs and Border Protection
CDE Community Development Entities
CFDA Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
CDFI Community Development Financial Institution
CERP Commander’s Emergency Response Program
CIO Chief Information Officer
CMS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
COBRA Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of

1985
Commerce Department of Commerce
Corrosion Office Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight
DHS Department of Homeland Security
DLA Defense Logistics Agency
DNDO Domestic Nuclear Detection Office
DOD Department of Defense
DOT Department of Transportation
DSH Disproportionate Share Hospital
EAS Essential Air Service
Education Department of Education
EDA Economic Development Administration
EHR Electronic Health Record
Energy Department of Energy
EPA Environmental Protection Agency
EPAct Energy Policy Act
FAM Foreign Affairs Manual

Page ii GAO-11-318SP

FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation
FCC Federal Communications Commission
FDA Food and Drug Administration
FEMA Federal Emergency Management Agency
FFS fee-for-service
FMCSA Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
FPDS-NG Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation
FSIS Food Safety and Inspection Service
FSSI Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative
FTA Federal Transit Administration
FTHBC First-Time Homebuyer Credit
Fund Universal Service Fund
GAGAS generally accepted government auditing standards
GHG greenhouse gas
GPO Government Pension Offset
GPRA Government Performance and Results Act
GSA General Services Administration
HHA home health agency
HHS Department of Health and Human Services
HUBZone Historically Underutilized Business Zone
HUD Department of Housing and Urban Development
IBET Integrated Border Enforcement Team
IED improvised explosive device
IG Inspector General
Interior Department of the Interior
IPERA Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act
IRS Internal Revenue Service
ISN Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation
ISR intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance
IT information technology
JIEDDO Joint IED Defeat Organization
Justice Department of Justice
Labor Department of Labor
MAS Multiple Award Schedule
MEA math error authority
MHS Military Health System
MPPR multiple procedure payment reduction
NAFTA North American Free Trade Agreement
NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NMTC New Markets Tax Credit
NP Bureau of Nonproliferation
NSLP National School Lunch Program

Page iii GAO-11-318SP

OFPP Office of Federal Procurement Policy
OMB Office of Management and Budget
ONRR Office of Natural Resources and Revenue
O&S operating and support
PAR Performance and Accountability Report
PBL performance-based logistics
PMS Payment Management System
RAC recovery audit contractor
RFS renewable fuel standard
ROI return on investment
S&T Science and Technology Directorate
SBA Small Business Administration
SNAP Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
SPOT Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques
SSA Social Security Administration
State Department of State
STEM science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
TANF Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Treasury Department of the Treasury
TSA Transportation Security Administration
USAC Universal Service Administrative Company
USAID U.S. Agency for International Development
USDA Department of Agriculture
USICH U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
VA Department of Veterans Affairs
VC Bureau of Verification and Compliance
VCI Bureau of Verification, Compliance and

Implementation
VEETC Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit
VistA Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology

Architecture
WEP Windfall Elimination Provision
WIA Workforce Investment Act
WIC Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women,

Infants, and Children

This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright protection in the
United States. The published product may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety
without further permission from GAO. However, because this work may contain
copyrighted images or other material, permission from the copyright holder may be
necessary if you wish to reproduce this material separately.

Page iv GAO-11-318SP

Page 1 GAO-11-318SP

United States Government Accountability Office

Washington, DC 20548

March 1, 2011

Congressional Addressees:

This is GAO’s first annual report to Congress in response to a new
statutory requirement that GAO identify federal programs, agencies,
offices, and initiatives, either within departments or governmentwide,
which have duplicative goals or activities. Congress asked GAO to conduct
this work and to report annually on our findings.1 This work will inform
government policymakers as they address the rapidly building fiscal
pressures facing our national government. GAO’s most recent update of its
annual simulations of the federal government’s fiscal outlook underscores
the need to address the long-term sustainability of the federal
government’s fiscal policies. 2 Since the end of the recent recession, the
gross domestic product has grown slowly and unemployment has
remained at a high level. While the economy is still recovering and in need
of careful attention, there is widespread agreement on the need to look not
only at the near term but also at steps that begin to change the long-term
fiscal path as soon as possible without slowing the recovery. With the
passage of time, the window to address the challenge narrows and the
magnitude of the required changes grows. GAO’s simulations show
continually increasing levels of debt that are unsustainable over time
absent changes in current fiscal policies.

The objectives of this report are to (1) identify federal programs or
functional areas where unnecessary duplication, overlap, or fragmentation
exists, the actions needed to address such conditions, and the potential
financial and other benefits of doing so; and (2) highlight other
opportunities for potential cost savings or enhanced revenues. To meet
these objectives, we are including 81 areas for consideration based on
related GAO work. This report is divided into two sections. Section I
presents 34 areas where agencies, offices, or initiatives have similar or
overlapping objectives or provide similar services to the same populations;
or where government missions are fragmented across multiple agencies or

1Pub. L. No. 111-139, § 21, 124 Stat. 29 (2010), 31 U.S.C. § 712 Note.

2GAO, The Federal Government’s Long-Term Fiscal Outlook: Fall 2010 Update,
GAO-11-201SP (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 15, 2010). Additional information on the federal
fiscal outlook, federal debt, and the outlook for the state and local government sector is
available at: www.gao.gov/special.pubs/longterm/.

Comptroller General

of the United States

programs. These areas span a range of government missions: agriculture,
defense, economic development, energy, general government, health,
homeland security, international affairs, and social services. Within and
across these missions, this report touches on hundreds of federal
programs, affecting virtually all major federal departments and agencies.
Overlap and fragmentation among government programs or activities can
be harbingers of unnecessary duplication. Reducing or eliminating
duplication, overlap, or fragmentation could potentially save billions of tax
dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective
services. The areas identified in this report are not intended to represent
the full universe of duplication, overlap, or fragmentation within the
federal government. We will continue to identify additional issues in future
reports.

Given today’s fiscal environment, Section II of this report summarizes 47
additional areas—beyond those directly related to duplication, overlap, or
fragmentation—describing other opportunities for agencies or Congress to
consider taking action that could either reduce the cost of government
operations or enhance revenue collections for the Treasury. These cost-
savings and revenue opportunities also span a wide range of federal
government agencies and mission areas. The issues raised in both sections
were drawn from GAO’s prior and ongoing work.

Many of the issues included in this report are focused on activities that are
contained within single departments or agencies. In those cases, agency
officials can generally achieve cost savings or other benefits by
implementing existing GAO recommendations or by undertaking new
actions suggested in this report. However, a number of issues we have
identified, particularly in the duplication area, span multiple organizations
and therefore may require higher-level attention by the executive branch
or enhanced congressional oversight or legislative action.

In some cases, there is sufficient information available today to show that
if actions are taken to address individual issues summarized in this report,
financial benefits ranging from the tens of millions to several billion
dollars annually may be realized by addressing that single issue. For
example, while the Department of Defense is making limited changes to
the governance of its military health care system, broader restructuring
could result in annual savings of up to $460 million. Similarly, we
developed a range of options that could reduce federal revenue losses by
up to $5.7 billion annually by addressing potentially duplicative policies
designed to boost domestic ethanol production. Likewise, we identified a
number of other opportunities for cost savings or enhanced revenues such

Page 2 GAO-11-318SP

as reducing improper federal payments totaling billions of dollars, or
addressing the gap between taxes owed and paid, potentially involving
billions of dollars. Collectively, these savings and revenues could result in
tens of billions of dollars in annual savings, depending on the extent of
actions taken.

In other cases, precise estimates of the extent of unnecessary duplication
among certain programs, and the cost savings that can be achieved by
eliminating any such duplication, are difficult to specify in advance of
congressional and executive branch decision making. In some instances,
needed information on program performance is not readily available; the
level of funding in agency budgets devoted to overlapping or fragmented
programs is not clear; and the implementation costs that might be
associated with program consolidations or terminations, among other
variables, are difficult to predict. For example, we identified 44 federal
employment and training programs that overlap with at least one other
program in that they provide at least one similar service to a similar
population. However, our review of three of the largest programs showed
that the extent to which individuals receive the same services from these
programs is unknown due to program data limitations. In addition,
Congress’ determinations in making policy decisions and actions that
agencies may take would affect the potential savings associated with any
given option.3 Nevertheless, considering the amount of program dollars
involved in the issues we have identified, even limited adjustments could
result in significant savings.

Given the challenges noted above, careful, thoughtful actions will be
needed to address many of the issues discussed in this report, particularly
those involving potential duplication. Additionally, in January 2011, the
President signed the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010,4 updating the
almost two-decades-old Government Performance and Results Act
(GPRA).5 Implementing provisions of the new act—such as its emphasis
on establishing outcome-oriented goals covering a limited number of
crosscutting policy areas—could play an important role in clarifying

3The mandate calling for this report also asked GAO to identify specific areas where
Congress may wish to cancel budget authority it has previously provided—a process
known as rescission. To date, GAO’s work has not identified a basis for proposing specific
funding rescissions.

4Pub. L. No. 111-352, 124 Stat. 3866 (2011).

5Pub. L. No. 103-62, 107 Stat. 285 (1993).

Page 3 GAO-11-318SP

desired outcomes, addressing program performance spanning multiple
organizations, and facilitating future actions to reduce unnecessary
duplication, overlap, and fragmentation.

As the nation rises to meet the current fiscal challenges, GAO will
continue to assist Congress and federal agencies in reducing duplication,
overlap, or fragmentation; achieving cost savings; and enhancing revenues.
In GAO’s future annual reports, we will look at additional federal
programs to identify further instances of duplication, overlap, or
fragmentation, as well as other opportunities to reduce the cost of
government operations or increase revenues to the government. Likewise,
we will continue to monitor developments in the areas we have already
identified. Issues of duplication, overlap, and fragmentation will be
addressed in our routine audit work during the year as appropriate and
summarized in our annual reports.

This report is based substantially upon work conducted for ongoing audits
and previously completed GAO products, which were conducted in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards or
with GAO’s quality assurance framework, as appropriate. We conducted
the work for the overall report from February 2010 through February 2011.
For issues being reported on for the first time, GAO sought comments
from the agencies involved and incorporated those comments as
appropriate. Appendix II contains additional details of our scope and
methodology.

This report was prepared under the coordination of Patricia Dalton, Chief
Operating Officer, who may be reached at (202) 512-5600, or
DaltonP@gao.gov; and Janet St. Laurent, Managing Director, Defense
Capabilities and Management, who may be reached at (202) 512-4300, or
StLaurentJ@gao.gov. Specific questions about individual issues may be
directed to the area contact listed at the end of each summary.

Gene L. Dodaro
Comptroller General
of the United States

Page 4 GAO-11-318SP

Section I: GAO Identified Areas of Potential

Duplication, Overlap, and Fragmentation,

Which, if Effectively Addressed, Could

Provide Financial and Other Benefits

Section I: GAO Identified Areas of Potential
Duplication, Overlap, and Fragmentation, Which, if
Effectively Addressed, Could Provide Financial and
Other Benefits

Table 1 presents 34 areas for consideration related to duplication, overlap,
or fragmentation from GAO’s recently completed and ongoing work. In
some cases, there is sufficient information to estimate potential savings or
other benefits if actions are taken to address individual issues. In those
cases, as noted below, financial benefits ranging from hundreds of millions
to several billion dollars annually may be realized. In other cases,
estimates of cost savings or other benefits would depend upon what
congressional and executive branch decisions were made, including how
certain GAO recommendations are implemented. Additionally, information
on program performance, the level of funding in agency budgets devoted
to overlapping or fragmented programs, and the implementation costs that
might be associated with program consolidations or terminations, are
factors that could impact actions to be taken as well as potential savings.
Following the table are summaries for each of the 34 areas listed. In
addition to summarizing what GAO has found, each area presents actions
for the executive branch or Congress to consider. Each of the summaries
contains a “Framework for Analysis” providing the methodology used to
conduct the work and a list of related GAO products for further
information.

Table 1: Duplication, Overlap, or Fragmentation Areas Identified in This Report

Missions
Agriculture

Defense

Areas identified
1. Fragmented food safety system has caused inconsistent

oversight, ineffective coordination, and inefficient use of
resources

2. Realigning DOD’s military medical command structures
and consolidating common functions could increase efficiency
and result in projected savings ranging from $281 million to
$460 million annually

3. Opportunities exist for consolidation and increased
efficiencies to maximize response to warfighter urgent
needs

Federal agencies and programs where
duplication, overlap, or fragmentation
may occur
The Department of Agriculture’s (USDA)
Food Safety and Inspection Service and
the Food and Drug Administration are the
primary food safety agencies, but 15
agencies are involved in some way
Department of Defense (DOD), including
the Office of the Assistant Secretary for
Health Affairs, the Army, the Navy, and
the Air Force
At least 31 entities within DOD

Page

8

13

18

4. Opportunities exist to avoid unnecessary redundancies and
improve the coordination of counter-improvised explosive
device efforts

The services and other components
within DOD 23

5. Opportunities exist to avoid unnecessary redundancies and
maximize the efficient use of intelligence, surveillance, and
reconnaissance capabilities

6. A departmentwide acquisition strategy could reduce DOD’s
risk of costly duplication in purchasing Tactical Wheeled
Vehicles

Multiple intelligence organizations within
DOD

DOD, including Army and Marine Corps

26

31

Page 5 GAO-11-318SP Section I: Duplication, Overlap, or Fragmentation

Section I: GAO Identified Areas of Potential

Duplication, Overlap, and Fragmentation,

Which, if Effectively Addressed, Could

Provide Financial and Other Benefits

7. Improved joint oversight of DOD’s prepositioning programs
for equipment and supplies may reduce unnecessary
duplication

DOD including Air Force, Army, and
Marine Corps 34

8. DOD business systems modernization: opportunities exist
for optimizing business operations and systems

About 2,300 investments across DOD 38

Economic
development

9. The efficiency and effectiveness of fragmented economic
development programs are unclear

USDA, Department of Commerce
(Commerce), Housing and Urban
Development (HUD), and the Small
Business Administration (SBA); 80
programs involved

42

10. The federal approach to surface transportation is
fragmented, lacks clear goals, and is not accountable for

Five agencies within the Department of
Transportation (DOT); over 100 programs 48

results involved
11. Fragmented federal efforts to meet water needs in the U.S.­ USDA, Commerce’s Economic

Mexico border region have resulted in an administrative Development Administration,
burden, redundant activities, and an overall inefficient use of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),
resources Department of Health and Human

Services’ (HHS) Indian Health Service,
52

Department of the Interior’s (Interior)
Bureau of Reclamation, HUD, and the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Energy 12. Resolving conflicting requirements could more effectively A number of agencies, including the
achieve federal fleet energy goals Department of Energy (Energy) and the

General Services Administration (GSA) 55
play a role overseeing the
governmentwide requirements

13. Addressing duplicative federal efforts directed at increasing EPA and the Department of the Treasury
domestic ethanol production could reduce revenue losses 59
by up to $5.7 billion annually

General
government

14. Enterprise architectures: key mechanisms for identifying
potential overlap and duplication

Governmentwide 62

15. Consolidating federal data centers provides opportunity to Twenty-four federal agencies
improve government efficiency and achieve significant cost 66
savings

16. Collecting improved data on interagency contracting to Governmentwide
minimize duplication could help the government leverage its 70
vast buying power

17. Periodic reviews could help identify ineffective tax Governmentwide
expenditures and redundancies in related tax and spending
programs, potentially reducing revenue losses by billions of

75

dollars
Health 18. Opportunities exist for DOD and VA to jointly modernize their

electronic health record systems
DOD and the Department of Veterans
Affairs (VA)

79

19. VA and DOD need to control drug costs and increase joint
contracting whenever it is cost-effective

DOD and VA 82

20. HHS needs an overall strategy to better integrate nationwide
public health information systems

Multiple agencies, led by HHS 88

Homeland 21. Strategic oversight mechanisms could help integrate USDA, DOD, Department of Homeland
security/Law fragmented interagency efforts to defend against biological Security (DHS), HHS, Interior, and others;
enforcement threats more than two dozen presidentially 92

appointed individuals with responsibility for
biodefense

Page 6 GAO-11-318SP Section I: Duplication, Overlap, or Fragmentation

Section I: GAO Identified Areas of Potential

Duplication, Overlap, and Fragmentation,

Which, if Effectively Addressed, Could

Provide Financial and Other Benefits

22. DHS oversight could help eliminate potential duplicating DHS and other federal law enforcement
efforts of interagency forums in securing the northern partners 96
border

23. The Department of Justice plans actions to reduce overlap in Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau
explosives investigations, but monitoring is needed to of Investigation and Bureau of Alcohol, 101
ensure successful implementation Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

24. TSA’s security assessments on commercial trucking DHS’s Transportation Security
companies overlap with those of another agency, but efforts are Administration (TSA) and DOT 105
under way to address the overlap

25. DHS could streamline mechanisms for sharing security- Three information-sharing mechanisms
related information with public transit agencies to help funded by DHS and TSA 111
address overlapping information

26. FEMA needs to improve its oversight of grants and establish DHS’s Federal Emergency Management
a framework for assessing capabilities to identify gaps and Agency (FEMA); 17 programs involved 116
prioritize investments

International 27. Lack of information sharing could create the potential for Principally DOD and the U.S. Agency for
affairs duplication of efforts between U.S. agencies involved in International Development 120

development efforts in Afghanistan
28. Despite restructuring, overlapping roles and functions still

exist at State’s Arms Control and Nonproliferation Bureaus
Two bureaus within the Department of
State (State)

123

Social 29. Actions needed to reduce administrative overlap among USDA, DHS, and HHS; 18 programs
services domestic food assistance programs involved 125

30. Better coordination of federal homelessness programs may Seven federal agencies, including
minimize fragmentation and overlap Department of Education (Education),

HHS, and HUD; over 20 programs
129

involved
31. Further steps needed to improve cost-effectiveness and USDA, DOT, Education, Interior, HHS,

enhance services for transportation-disadvantaged persons HUD, Department of Labor (Labo

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