GAO finds billions of dollars in redundant gov’t programs

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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The government could save tens of billions of dollars each year if redundant and duplicative programs were cut, according to a report released by the Government Accountability Office on Tuesday.

The GAO report examines programs and services that could be streamlined to increase efficiency of government and save money. It looked at areas of where it found either duplication or overlap of services — when “two or more agencies or programs are engaged in the same activities or provide the same services to the same beneficiaries — and fragmentation, when “more than one federal agency (or more than one organization with an agency) is involved in the same broad national interest.” Fragmentation often amounts to an overlap.

The report specifies 51 new areas where government can be made more efficient, in addition to 81 areas identified in a report last year. Many of those issues have been at least partially addressed since that report was released, according to this new GAO report, but a number still need to be dealt with.

Republicans took issue with a White House blog post that touted the number of issues from the previous report that had been addressed.

“By using Orwellian definitions, the White House is trying to spin the media into reporting it has actually taken last year’s GAO report seriously. We’ll see if they’re successful,” said one senate aide familiar with the GAO reports.

Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, took the opportunity to criticize President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats for not passing a budget that would address the overlaps.

“This shocking report identifies more than $400 billion in annual government spending on 1,500 different programs that are wasteful, duplicative, or inefficient,” Sessions said in a statement. “Over the course of a decade, this translates into trillions of wasted taxpayer dollars. Yet the president’s budget plan proposes to raise taxes by $2 trillion in order to increase spending by another $1.6 trillion — subsidizing even greater waste in Washington. It emphasizes more spending, and does not execute the kind of dramatic efficiencies necessary to alter our debt course. The president’s budget is a massive bailout for big spenders.”

In a phone call with reporters, Sessions told The Daily Caller that while there was “validity” in people blaming Congress for this, the responsibility to make these changes ultimately falls to the executive branch.

“The chief executive for America is the president,” Sessions said. “And under his control and direct supervision are all these cabinet and sub-cabinet agencies, and they deal with these individual programs every day.”

“Governors and mayors take it as a given that its their job to study their bureaucracies… and make governments leaner,” Sessions said, referring to other persons who serve as executives.

“But it seems our president has little interest in that,” he continued.

Those cabinet and sub-cabinet member should be coming to Congress constantly with proposals to streamline agencies and programs under their purview, Sessions said. If a new president is elected, Sessions concluded, reducing bureaucratic inefficiencies should be “one of his highest priorities.”

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