2014 GAO Report on Duplication and Overlap

Each year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) produces a report covering opportunities to reduce fragmentation, overlap, and duplication within the federal government. Its 2014 report, released today, is the fourth report in this annual series, which originated from an amendment authored by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) as part of the 2010 debt ceiling legislation.

The issues highlighted in the report should not necessarily be seen as examples of "waste," but rather as a sign that some of these programs could be made more efficient. Many problems the federal government is trying to solve are complex and multifaceted, and there could be some benefit to having different agencies with different perspectives engaged in similar work. Likewise, fragmentation may offer an agency greater independence. However, the examples highlighted in the report also may represent missed opportunities for agencies with similar objectives to work together to improve their programs. The report identifies issues that fall into the last category. In this year's report, GAO identifies 11 areas to improve efficiencies and 15 areas to reduce costs or enhance revenues across all areas of government.

Selected GAO Recommendations
Areas Identified Possible Solutions
Contracting for Defense Health Care Professionals To achieve greater efficiencies, DOD should develop a consolidated agency-wide strategy to contract for health care professionals.
Satellite Control Operations Increased use of shared satellite control networks and leading practices within the DOD could result in millions of dollars in savings annually.
Income Security
Disability and Unemployment Benefits Preventing individuals from collecting both full Disability Insurance and Unemployment Insurance benefits over the same period could save $1.2 billion over 10 years.
Information Technology
Interoperable Radio Communications Systems Better collaboration among agencies that rely on radio communications solutions would help to address fragmentation in their approach to improving the interoperability of radio communications systems and has the potential to achieve savings.
Federal Autism Research The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee and federal agencies should improve coordination and monitoring of autism research to help avoid unnecessary duplication.
Minority AIDS Initiative Consolidating the fragmented funding of the HHS Minority AIDS Initiative into core HIV/AIDS funding would likely reduce grantees’ administrative burden and help the agency more efficiently and effectively provide services to minority populations who are disproportionally affected by HIV/AIDS.

This series of GAO reports has identified many areas to improve efficiency or effectiveness across a broad range of federal agencies. Within these areas, GAO identifies actions—over 400 across the four reports—that the federal government could take to improve efficiency. While the government has not acted on all previous recommended actions, a significant majority have been fully or partially addressed, as shown below.

While the potential savings highlighted in these reports are not enough to close the deficit, the recommended actions carry meaningful savings. Policymakers should consider these recommendations to improve government service delivery and program management.