Many Government Programs Have 10 Agencies Doing Same Job

Tom Coburn / AP

A new Government Accountability Office report reveals that government programs are often "fragmented, duplicative, overlapping, or just inefficient," USA Today reports.

The report, by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, identifies 26 new areas where federal government programs are fragmented, duplicative, overlapping or just inefficient. Add that to the 162 areas identified in past reports, and Congress has a road map for saving tens of billions of dollars a year.

For example, there are 10 different Health and Human Services offices that run programs related to AIDS in minority communities. Eleven different agencies are dedicated to researching autism, and the Defense Department has eight agencies searching for prisoners of war and those missing in action.

"Turning this ready-made list of cuts into savings is one of the best ways Congress can regain the trust and confidence of the American people," said Tom Coburn, who wrote the legislation requiring the annual report. "At the end of the day, there are no shortcuts around the hard work of oversight and identifying and eliminating waste."

The duplication reports are now in their fourth year, but Congress has been slow to act. The Obama administration has at least partly implemented 83% of GAO's recommendations, while Congress has taken up 52%, said Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, who will testify about the GAO's findings Tuesday at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. […]

"One of the most troubling things in GAO's report is the number of agencies that have no idea just how much taxpayer money they are spending on their programs," said House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif. He's sponsored legislation, the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, that would require the government to better track spending data from Congress to an agency to its ultimate recipient. The bill passed the House 388-1 last year and is awaiting a vote in the Senate.