Agency efforts to cut duplication, overlap have saved $429B, GAO says

At a time when government has injected trillions of dollars into the economy to address the fallout from the coronavirus crisis, the Government Accountability Office suggests agencies could uncover billions in additional savings — simply by better managing existing programs and finding ways to weed out duplication, fragmentation and overlap.

“The federal government has made an unprecedented financial response to the COVID-19 pandemic, GAO said. “At the same time, opportunities exist for achieving billions of dollars in financial savings and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of a wide range of federal programs in other areas.”

In its 10th annual report on fragmentation, overlap and duplication, GAO pointed to 168 new actions federal agencies and Congress could take to generate more efficiency in government programs and functions.

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For the past nine years, GAO has pointed to more than 900 actions that either Congress or agencies themselves could take to reduce, eliminate or better manage areas of fragmentation, overlap and duplication across government programs.

The efforts agencies have taken to date have saved $429 billion, GAO said. As of March, Congress and agencies have fully or partially addressed nearly 80% of the actions GAO has identified over the last nine years.

The Defense Department alone, which, to no surprise, has the most GAO recommendations than any other agency, has saved $194 billion through its actions.

Actions that the  Department of Health and Human Services and the Agriculture Department have taken in recent years have saved $72 billion and $45 billion, respectively.

DoD, HHS and the IRS have the most open or partially unaddressed recommendations from GAO, according to the report.

Here are just a few  steps agencies could take to save billions more.