House Republicans could fulfill their Pledge to America promise of cutting $100 billion simply by eliminating duplicative government programs. That’s the startling news from a new Government Accountability Office report today that exposes widespread waste in the federal government.
GAO’s 345-page report (PDF) was initiated more than a year ago when Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) forced a 94-0 Senate vote on the issue. Now, each year GAO must identify federal programs, agencies, offices and initiatives with duplicative goals and activities. It’s up to Congress to act, but given the recent desire to cut spending, there is no shortage of waste — at least $100 billion, according to Coburn’s estimate.
“This report also shows we could save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars every year without cutting services,” Coburn said. “And, in many cases, smart consolidations will improve service.”
Some of GAO’s most egregious examples of government waste highlighted by Coburn’s office include:
- Twenty agencies operating 56 programs dedicated to financial literacy. GAO and agencies can’t estimate what they cost.
- The federal government runs 80 economic development programs at four agencies at a cost of $6.5 billion.
- The Department of Transportation spends $58 billion on 100 programs run by five agencies with 6,000 employees that haven’t evolved since 1956.
- Fifteen federal agencies administer more than 30 food-related laws.
- At least five departments, eight agencies and more than two dozen presidential appointees oversee $6.48 billion related to bioterrorism.
GAO’s conclusions repeatedly cited a lack of coordination between agencies. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture secured responsibility for monitoring catfish in the farm bill, splitting seafood oversight between USDA and Food and Drug Administration, according to GAO.
“Considering the amount of program dollars involved in the issues we have identified, even limited adjustments could result in significant savings,” GAO concluded in the report.
Coburn, who recently exposed fraud and mismanagement at federal job-training programs, has promised to keep a close eye on government waste.
“GAO has identified a mother lode of government waste and duplication that should keep Congress busy for the rest of the year,” he said.