GAO Report: Government wastes “tens of billions” of dollars on duplication and overlap

posted at 4:15 pm on February 28, 2012 by Tina Korbe

Another year, another Government Accountability Office report that shows the federal government still hasn’t gotten its act together when it comes to waste. Last year, the GAO report showed overlap in 81 areas and recommended 176 actions to reduce or eliminate unnecessary duplication. This year, the report shows overlap in 51 areas and recommends 130 actions. That’s some improvement, I guess — but still not enough.

The White House says the report doesn’t reflect consolidation proposals in the president’s 2013 budget. But does the president’s budget address the ways in which the government undermines its own efforts to reduce potato chip consumption? Allow Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn to explain:

He said government’s duplication in nutritional programs alone — worth $62.5 billion in 2008, according to GAO — have burned taxpayers over items as simple as potato chips.

“While many of these programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) allow federal funds to purchase potato chips, dozens of other government-wide initiatives, are aimed at keeping Americans healthy, specifically suggesting food like potato chips should be limited in intake, and perhaps even taken out of public schools all together,” he said.

“At the same time, just this year the Department of Agriculture announced a nearly $50,000 federal grant was being doled out to a private potato chip company in New York. According the proposal, this money would be used to overhaul their media strategy and raise brand awareness and consumer knowledge — essentially encouraging people to buy and consume potato chips,” he said, noting that potato chips sales in the United States exceed $6 billion annually.

Coburn said that sales level “begs the question why the taxpayers are now asked to subsidize promotion and marketing for the industry.”

Michelle Obama must be outraged.

Coburn and Gene Dodaro, comptroller general for the United States, testified today about the GAO report and government waste in general at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Relations Committee. Chairman Darrell Issa took the report as evidence that “the bureaucracy” — not necessarily Democrats or Republicans — is the enemy of taxpayers, but Coburn cast the blame squarely on Congress:

“We set the budget, we pass the appropriations bills and we authorize new activities at the federal agencies. We refuse to apply metrics and standards to the programs we create. We ignore our duty to conduct oversight. And we choose to remain uninformed about existing efforts before creating new ones,” he said.

Coburn’s willingness to accept responsibility — he is, after all, a part of the very Congress he censures — is inspiring. Maybe we the people should look to ourselves to accept responsibility, too. Surely we can do more to encourage accountability. Maybe take a look at the report, find an example of waste that astonishes you and pitch an idea to curb it to your congressman?


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Didn’t the CBO do a similar report?

WashJeff on February 28, 2012 at 4:16 PM

Does that even go into us having a Department Of Redundancy Department?

teke184 on February 28, 2012 at 4:18 PM

For as long as there are taxpayers, whose backs can be broken by higher and higher taxes, there will be the continuation of government waste … government deficits and government debt.

The People should simply say … no more.

What to do … when all of the taxpayers are in agreement?

OhEssYouCowboys on February 28, 2012 at 4:19 PM

How much was spent on this report to tell us what we already knew?

Flange on February 28, 2012 at 4:21 PM

The bigger the government, the bigger the waste.

Chip on February 28, 2012 at 4:21 PM

Newt could fix this…

… but noooooooooo!

Seven Percent Solution on February 28, 2012 at 4:24 PM

If Congress wants to find real cuts then the entire US budget, excepting national security, needs to be online own to the paper clip. Millions of We the People can find plenty of waste to cut.

Charlemagne on February 28, 2012 at 4:24 PM

Taxist/Spendist Running Amuckist!!!!!

canopfor on February 28, 2012 at 4:24 PM

But but the military has TO be down sized and pay for more for health care so these duplications can continue? Some things in dc are WAY more important than those defending our Republic aren’t they? I would bet if we got rid of all this type of krap, we would be in the black in a year? But also, look at all those fed workers out of a job to add to the outta work here?
L

letget on February 28, 2012 at 4:25 PM

but Obama promised to go through the budget line by line to eliminate waste…….

search4truth on February 28, 2012 at 4:26 PM

I would be willing to bet that the duplication of services and cumbersome bureaucracy is costing us upwards toward a trillion dollars a year and accomplishes nothing for the money spent.

We need to do a needs analysis, function definition and redesign our federal government from a clean sheet of paper. We could probably trim the employment in half and cut the budget down to eliminate the deficit immediately. Then we could tackle entitlement reform without gutting our military.

karenhasfreedom on February 28, 2012 at 4:26 PM

Newt could fix this…

… but noooooooooo!

Seven Percent Solution on February 28, 2012 at 4:24 PM

Seven Percent Solution:True Dat,the MSM is too busy Politically
Savaging and S*domizing Newty!:)(snark)

canopfor on February 28, 2012 at 4:27 PM

but Obama promised to go through the budget line by line to eliminate waste…….

search4truth on February 28, 2012 at 4:26 PM

What budget? The Senate hasn’t passed one in over 3 fiscal years.

karenhasfreedom on February 28, 2012 at 4:27 PM

************* Happy Super Tuesday Y’All *************************

canopfor on February 28, 2012 at 4:28 PM

NewtSarah could fix this…

… but noooooooooo!

Seven Percent Solution on February 28, 2012 at 4:24 PM

Newt’s gonna be too busy building his moonbase.

talkingpoints on February 28, 2012 at 4:28 PM

Smaller Government would fix most of these issues.
Get the Government out of everything they have no business being involved in!

gullxn on February 28, 2012 at 4:28 PM

Poor GAO. Every year they dig and find duplication and wasteful government programs, issue a report, and – Congress yawns and ignores it – time after time! Throw the bums out!

Bob in VA on February 28, 2012 at 4:28 PM

Not surprised.
When I was in social services, we made copies of copies of copies constantly. And when we made the new copies the old copies were shredded.
There was nothing they didn’t want a form for and things always always would go from simple to more complex. If you could make a phone call to request something, it was only a matter of time before someone would invent a form for that request that you needed to submit and then make copies of, one for your self and one for another file while they got the original.

Forms were constantly changing and all the old stuff would get shredded.
It was a thing to behold…. to see the boxes of fresh copy paper arrive and to see the trash bags of shredded copy paper sitting in the hall waiting for the trash. It was just a matter of time before I realized how it was all so surreal. Stacks of copy paper were always coming in, and bags of shredded copy paper were always going out.
Multiply that by how many counties and other government offices are doing the same thing each month and the waste of copy paper alone is monumental.

JellyToast on February 28, 2012 at 4:29 PM

I wonder which state will first have the balls to say ‘up yours’ to The Fedzilla and stop transferring federal tax money it collects.

Archivarix on February 28, 2012 at 4:29 PM

This is entirely a scope problem.

Any sucessful enterprise needs to focus on a few core tasks and do them well, before moving on to other things.

Our government, on the other hands, tries to do virtually everything and does almost nothing well.

If you tried to operate a private business like this you’d be bankrupt in a year. Or should I say, out of business, because our federal government is bankrupt.

NoDonkey on February 28, 2012 at 4:30 PM

Ten of billions? That’s chump change nowadays.

Ward Cleaver on February 28, 2012 at 4:30 PM

This happens to any bureaucracy that is too big and bloated. The frustrating thing is they do these “oversites”, and then nothing happens to remediate it. Mainly because someone, who is in a public union, needs to be laid off, and only evil corporations lay people off, the good and plenty government never has to let anyone go.

kirkill on February 28, 2012 at 4:31 PM

I watched the hearing this morning and it covered many more examples than just one post like this can provide unless you make a book as big as the report that was submitted this morning.

There is just an amazing number of duplicate programs across so many agencies that should be consolidated.

Also notable was only one department had a complete list of all the programs they were responsible for.

I also agree with the point that just like the CBO scores a bill for how much it will cost the CRS should review it to determine if things are being created which already exist i.e. another jobs training program.

CommentGuy on February 28, 2012 at 4:33 PM

but Obama promised to go through the budget line by line to eliminate waste…….

search4truth on February 28, 2012 at 4:26 PM

He did and found it didn’t spend enough so increased his budget.

chemman on February 28, 2012 at 4:36 PM

I should also note that I discount any provisions of the budget the President submitted since it will never be acted on and mostly is a campaign document with little other impact.

CommentGuy on February 28, 2012 at 4:38 PM

A mere drop in the bucket compared to the waste & fraud in Medicare & Medicaid.

jb34461 on February 28, 2012 at 4:39 PM

There was nothing they didn’t want a form for and things always always would go from simple to more complex. If you could make a phone call to request something, it was only a matter of time before someone would invent a form for that request that you needed to submit and then make copies of, one for your self and one for another file while they got the original.

Forms were constantly changing and all the old stuff would get shredded.
It was a thing to behold…. to see the boxes of fresh copy paper arrive and to see the trash bags of shredded copy paper sitting in the hall waiting for the trash. It was just a matter of time before I realized how it was all so surreal. Stacks of copy paper were always coming in, and bags of shredded copy paper were always going out.
Multiply that by how many counties and other government offices are doing the same thing each month and the waste of copy paper alone is monumental.

JellyToast on February 28, 2012 at 4:29 PM

I thought I was reading an Orwell novel there for a minute.

Lost in Jersey on February 28, 2012 at 4:42 PM

As a woman, I am outraged that they are even THINKING about cutting potato chip subsidies.

Who are they to tell me whether or not I can access affordable chips? Does Planned Potato Products know about this?

Lily on February 28, 2012 at 4:43 PM

I wonder which state will first have the balls to say ‘up yours’ to The Fedzilla and stop transferring federal tax money it collects.

Archivarix on February 28, 2012 at 4:29 PM

You can only hope, and soon! If not, then I think “People” should start thinking of Post-Pone paying taxes for oh, about 2 years.

That might get some attention…

mr_west on February 28, 2012 at 4:48 PM

O/T
===

Clarification:
***************

Virginia abortion bill goes to House for approval of amendment excluding rape, incest victims

Submitted 1 hour ago from www2.timesdispatch.com
=================================================

Virginia Senate passes modified abortion bill requiring abdominal ultrasound before procedure; governor expected to sign it

Submitted 1 hour ago by editor
http://www.breakingnews.com/
============================

canopfor on February 28, 2012 at 4:51 PM

This year, the report shows overlap in 51 areas and recommends 130 actions.

I’d like to propose action number 131.

How about when the President and First Lady travel to the same vacation spot they stop taking separate airplanes and share a ride.

I know it’s not much relatively speaking, but it is one of the more visible overlaps, and would save millions of dollars over the course of his second term.

No more separate planes 2012. That is Hope and Change we can all live with.

MessesWithTexas on February 28, 2012 at 4:53 PM

In other news…the sky is blue, and water is wet…and Michael Jackson is STILL DEAD

Tomolena1 on February 28, 2012 at 4:53 PM

Because it is too BIG!!!!

Cindy Munford on February 28, 2012 at 4:54 PM

O/T a tad,Oops…more waste,er fraud!

Former Detroit treasurer indicted for alleged kickbacks costing city pension funds $84M – @freepStory

Submitted 1 hour ago from http://www.freep.com
http://www.breakingnews.com/
============================

canopfor on February 28, 2012 at 4:55 PM

Just wait till Obamacare kicks in.

It’s going to be great.

tom daschle concerned on February 28, 2012 at 4:55 PM

Because it is too BIG!!!!

Cindy Munford on February 28, 2012 at 4:54 PM

Cindy Munford:Exactly….Too fail,Losers and Winners!:)

canopfor on February 28, 2012 at 4:57 PM

But where we really need to make cuts is in the military – not in any of the hundreds of overarching, duplicative, redundant, ineffective, burdensome, klutzy, pointless and expensive bureaucracies.

natasha333 on February 28, 2012 at 4:57 PM

Most of the federal government is nothing but a collection of self-licking ice cream cones. They exist only to justify their own existence. As a defense contractor since 1987, I’ve seen it every day.

dentarthurdent on February 28, 2012 at 5:02 PM

Here’s an idea: pick one, just one, federal agency from the following list and close it – shut it down completely: Department of Education, HHS, EPA, Department of Agriculture, Department of Labor, Department of Commerce, Department of Transportation, Department of Energy. Can’t do that? Then pick one of the sub-bureaucracies in any of these agencies but for Pete’s sake start somewhere!

Then, one year later, aside from the necessarily unemployed bureaucrats, ask the public if they’ve even noticed that it’s gone. Betcha they don’t.

natasha333 on February 28, 2012 at 5:02 PM

And DoD isn’t even the worst of them…

dentarthurdent on February 28, 2012 at 5:02 PM

natasha333 on February 28, 2012 at 5:02 PM

I would shut down ALL of the departments on your list. Every one of them has been a complete failure at their stated mission/objective/purpose.

dentarthurdent on February 28, 2012 at 5:05 PM

canopfor on February 28, 2012 at 4:57 PM

I don’t believe in too big to fail and when it happens it’s going to be ugly.

Cindy Munford on February 28, 2012 at 5:27 PM

The only answer is to have Department of Redundancy Department.

Just remember there is NO where to cut the budget.

jukin3 on February 28, 2012 at 5:50 PM

Didn’t the CBO do a similar report?

WashJeff on February 28, 2012 at 4:16 PM

Brought to you by The Department of Redundancy Department.

profitsbeard on February 28, 2012 at 6:00 PM

What a surprise. /s

totherightofthem on February 28, 2012 at 6:17 PM

If we SHUT IT ALL DOWN, guaranteed in a month’s time we’ll know what is important and what isn’t. In 2 months time we’ll really be sure.

GarandFan on February 28, 2012 at 6:36 PM

The only answer is to have Department of Redundancy Department.

Just remember there is NO where to cut the budget.

jukin3 on February 28, 2012 at 5:50 PM

Just in case you missed it.

Brought to you by The Department of Redundancy Department.

profitsbeard on February 28, 2012 at 6:00 PM

In case you missed it.

LoganSix on February 28, 2012 at 7:36 PM

Remember this from a year ago? Government Waste By the Numbers: Report Identifies Dozens of Overlapping Programs

“The federal government hosts 47 job-training programs, 44 of which overlap. It runs 80 programs for the “transportation disadvantaged.

Another 82 programs spread across 10 separate agencies endeavor to improve teacher quality — something hundreds of local school districts are already focused on.”

Anyone think anything has been done about this?

slickwillie2001 on February 28, 2012 at 9:09 PM

GAO Report: Government wastes “tens of billions” of dollars on duplication and overlap

Wow, and the sky is blue.

Sultanofsham on February 29, 2012 at 2:33 AM

The thing is that any large organization will have significant amounts of waste. It’s inevitable. An organization as big as the federal government cannot have sufficient accountability for individuals no matter how hard it tries. The only way to get rid of waste is to make government smaller.

Jeff A on February 29, 2012 at 6:55 AM

I would be willing to bet that the duplication of services and cumbersome bureaucracy is costing us upwards toward a trillion dollars a year and accomplishes nothing for the money spent.

We need to do a needs analysis, function definition and redesign our federal government from a clean sheet of paper. We could probably trim the employment in half and cut the budget down to eliminate the deficit immediately. Then we could tackle entitlement reform without gutting our military.

karenhasfreedom on February 28, 2012 at 4:26 PM

Agreed. Now how do we STOP hiring lawyers to do the job accountants need to do?

landowner on February 29, 2012 at 11:53 AM

Ihe Liberal Democrats, and sadly, most Americans would accepe as their nirvana, a country with 94% employment which PRODUCES NOTHING
but Paychecks! If a little production of tradable goods and services was coincidently produced, that would be OK but not essential.

Liberal, big government and Unions, decades ago, changed their focus from producing value to just employment at any cost!

Did you ever hear of a great Union Program Or Strike Threatened TO INCREASE PRODUCTION of High Value Merchandise without an increase in Cost(Improved Efficiency), or a Government program with the same goal? Or a proposal to adopt the Jack Welsh GE process of Firing 10% each year to weed out the marginal employees?

Decades ago, their missiles were retargeted to the production of increasing JOB NUMBERS, WITH NO CAVEATS!

WASTE, Fraud and Abuse keeps more people employed!

I watched Greta VanSustren try for five minutes to get John McCain to talk about it, but he avouded the subject like the plague; He knows what I have written here is true. And even he, a rumored to be conservative, is OK with it!

PhillupSpace on February 29, 2012 at 2:13 PM

Didn’t the CBO do a similar report?

Welcome to Federal Government waste, fraud and abuse.

natasha333 on February 28, 2012 at 5:02 PM

Cutting 100% of each Department you suggested would be a start.

But where we really need to make cuts is in the military

I have a suggestion that I bet a majority of Americans (the taxpaying kind) would agree to and it won’t negatively affect a single American citizen (real, not imagined): Forbid, deny any illegal alien from receiving any financial benefit up to and including a job.

That would help remove any future spending and/or increase to add to the 397 billion spent on services to illegal aliens since 1996.

Exit question – If PP receives gov funding to provide low cost/no cost ‘reproductive services’ to women – exactly why does Obamacare need to require employers and/or insurance to provide those services – isn’t that another redundancy – on our dime?

jackal40 on February 29, 2012 at 4:00 PM