Target-Rich Environment for Duplication Report | Citizens Against Government Waste

Target-Rich Environment for Duplication Report

The WasteWatcher

On May 12, 2021, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its annual report on fragmented, overlapping, or duplicative federal programs. 

Over the past decade, the GAO has identified more than 1,100 “actions to reduce costs, increase revenues, and improve agencies’ operating effectiveness.”  Implementation of the GAO’s recommendations has achieved approximately $429 billion in accrued and projected financial benefits.  The report estimates that tens of billions in additional savings could be realized if Congress and the executive branches act on the remaining recommendations.

The latest iteration of the report identifies 112 new actions that would make the federal government more efficient and effective.  These include several steps the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) should take to improve the manner in which agencies purchase goods and services.  By refining data management, creating performance metrics, and eliminating duplicative contracts, especially in federal IT contracting, the OMB could save billions of dollars over the next five years.

Savings could also be achieved in federal cybersecurity spending.  The report notes that agencies “could improve coordination of fragmented cybersecurity requirements and related assessment programs for state agencies, potentially minimizing the burden on states,” achieving millions in savings.  Members of Congress and agency officials should pay heed to the GAO’s recommendations when planning a response to the May 7, 2021 Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack that shut down the country’s largest fuel pipeline.

In addition, hundreds of millions of dollars could be saved over the next half-decade at the National Nuclear Security Administration with the implementation of various cost saving and efficiency measures.

Unsurprisingly, the GAO made several recommendations to improve efficiency at the Department of Defense (DOD).  Elements within the Pentagon have been on the GAO’s list since 1995.  One new proposal involves improving DOD real property management.  According to the report, the DOD could do this by “developing a department-wide strategy to address control issues and perform real property existence and completeness verifications.”  The Pentagon manages more than 603,000 real property assets, valued at $1.4 trillion in fiscal year 2020. 

In an era of ever-increasing deficits, legislators should prioritize increasing the efficiency of existing federal programs.  This report provides an excellent starting point.

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