Report: Feds Could Save Billions By Cutting Duplicative Programs

Over 160 STEM programs cost taxpayers $2.9 billion

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April 26, 2018

The federal government could save billions by cutting duplicative programs, according to an annual report released by the Government Accountability Office.

The GAO identified 68 new actions Congress or the executive branch could take to save taxpayers, including eliminating duplicative Coast Guard boat stations and assessing the more than 150 STEM programs across numerous agencies.

"The federal government faces an unsustainable long-term fiscal path based on an imbalance between federal revenue and spending, primarily driven by health care spending and net interest on the debt," the GAO said. "Addressing this imbalance will require long-term changes to both spending and revenue and difficult fiscal policy decisions. Significant action to mitigate this imbalance must be taken soon to minimize the disruption to individuals and the economy."

The reports are mandated by a law championed by deficit hawk Tom Coburn, the former Republican senator from Oklahoma, to identify redundancy throughout the federal government. Since the first report was issued in 2011, taxpayers have saved approximately $178 billion by GAO recommendations taken to reduce duplicative practices.

Recommendations include improving "seafood oversight," which is currently overlapped by the Food and Drug Administration and the Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The report noted there are 163 STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) initiatives, costing taxpayers $2.9 billion alone in 2016. That number of programs "could create opportunities to better manage fragmentation and overlap," the GAO said.

"Nearly all of these programs overlapped with at least one other program," the GAO said.

STEM projects spread across numerous agencies, such as the National Science Foundation spending $587,441 to make engineering more "inclusive" for LGBTQ students and the State Department spending $75,000 for a "Women in STEM" roadshow.

The GAO report also found taxpayers could save millions if the management of health care costs at federal prisons was improved. The Pentagon could save $527 million over 5 years by eliminating underused distribution centers.

The Department of Defense owns 256 centers to store clothing, weapons systems repair parts, and other troop support supplies, but roughly only a third are used.

"The Department of Veterans Affairs could potentially save tens of millions of dollars when acquiring medical and surgical supplies by better adhering to supply chain practices of leading hospitals," the GAO said.