A new report out from the Government Accountability Office, which highlights where executive branch agency programs are costing taxpayers tens of billions of dollars in overlapping costs, demonstrates the Presidential Administration’s hypocrisy with regard to the Federal budget.
The findings of the GAO report that was issued on Tuesday show that while President Barack Obama and top Administration officials have made a point of making Federal cuts stemming from sequester impact the public in visible ways, they have repeatedly failed to reduce costs in places that would eliminate redundant expenses.
There is at least $95 billion in Federal overlap spending that could be reduced.
GAO identified 31 areas where agencies could make cuts in the name of efficiency; among them are 17 areas of fragmentation, overlap or duplication where multiple programs and activities exist. The report also points out 14 areas where opportunities exist to achieve cost savings or enhance revenue collections.
And though GAO has offered Federal officials 81 suggestions that would cut taxpayer costs if the Administration and Congress took the initiative, Americans probably shouldn’t hold their breath. Spending redundancies and suggestions noted in GAO reports for the past two years have gone largely unaddressed.
Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) highlighted the following findings from the report on his website:
- 679 renewable energy initiatives at 23 federal agencies and their 130 sub-agencies cost taxpayers $15 billion in FY 2010.
- 76 programs to prevent or treat drug abuse are spread across 15 agencies, costing $4.5 billion in FY 2012.
- Three federal offices are involved in overseeing catfish inspections.
- 159 contracting organizations in 10 different Defense Department components provide defense foreign language support. GAO estimates $50 to $200 million in potential savings by eliminating this duplication.
- The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) offers 69 different language services. GAO found 23 instances of overlap involving 43 of these services, accounting for $149 million, or nearly 20 percent, of the BBG’s FY 2011 annual appropriations.
- 21 programs, including eight tax expenditures, are in place to help students save for, pay, and repay the cost of higher education, annually costing $45 billion, $104 billion in financial loans, and $25 billion in lost revenue from tax spending.
- Six programs to employ and train veterans are operated by two government agencies, which spent $1.2 billion in FY 2011 to serve 880,000 participants. The GAO found, “Despite these efforts, the unemployment rate for veterans who have recently separated from the military is higher than that for other veterans and nonveterans.”
- The Department of Commerce’s National Technical Information Service (NTIS) was established in 1950 and tasked with collecting and distributing certain reports. Despite the fact that nearly 75 percent of these reports are now available online for free, NTIS continues to charge the public, and even other federal agencies, for these reports. Even more, 95 percent of those on other websites, were available for free. Making the government looking even more foolish, GAO explains, “The source that most often had the reports GAO was searching for was another website located at http://www.Google.com.”
- The Department of Commerce’s National Technical Information Service (NTIS) was established in 1950 and tasked with collecting and distributing certain reports. Despite the fact that nearly 75 percent of these reports are now available online for free, NTIS continues to charge the public, and even other federal agencies, for these reports. GAO explains, “These results show that NTIS disseminates and charges for many reports that overlap with information that is available for free from federal agencies and other public websites.” Over ten years ago, the GAO issued a report highlighting this clear overlap and government waste. In a November 2012, GAO “estimated that approximately 621,917, or about 74 percent, of the 841,502 reports were readily available from one of the other four publicly available sources GAO searched.” Even more, 95 percent of those on other websites, were available for free. Making the government looking even more foolish, GAO explains, “The source that most often had the reports GAO was searching for was another website located at http://www.Google.com.”
- Six separate offices at the Department of Homeland Security are involved in research and development. In one example, “two DHS components awarded five separate contracts that each addressed detection of the same chemical. Moreover, DHS did not have the policies and mechanisms necessary to coordinate or track research and development activities across the department.”
Meanwhile, the $85 billion sequestration “cuts” are leading to furloughs for Federal workers, affecting the National Parks system, closing the White House to the public, grounding the Blue Angels and having other consequences designed to be noticed by the public at large.
Read the GAO report here.