Ten Agencies Doing One Task

April 16, 2014

The federal government sometimes has 10 different agencies running a single program, says USA Today.

A new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reveals just how much duplication exists within our federal programs.

  • Programs addressing AIDS in minority communities takes 10 different federal offices.
  • Autism research has 11 separate agencies.
  • The search for prisoners of war and Americans missing in action is spread across eight agencies within the Department of Defense.
  • And at the Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado, eight different satellite control centers are used to control 10 satellite programs.

In past reports, the GAO has identified 162 areas marked by fragmentation, duplication, overlap and inefficiency. This year, the GAO added 26 new areas to that list. Agencies dispute that duplication is necessarily waste -- responding to its management of autism research across 11 agencies, Health and Human Services argued that multidisplinary research is often required.

Republican Senator Tom Coburn authored the legislation that requires these yearly reports from the GAO, and he urged lawmakers to take this list and make cuts to the budget.

  • This is the fourth year that the GAO has produced these reports.
  • Eighty-three percent of the agency's recommendations have been "at least partly implemented" by the Obama administration.
  • According to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, Congress has taken up 52 percent of the recommendations.

How much money is wasted because of the duplication? It is impossible to tell. The government does not keep track of which programs each agency is responsible for, so taxpayers are in the dark as to how much money each agency is spending on these programs. Darrell Issa, Republican congressman from California, has sponsored legislation that would require better tracking of spending data on money transferred from Congress to an agency to its final destination. The bill passed the House and is awaiting a Senate vote.

Source: George Korte, "Government Often Has 10 Agencies Doing One Job," USA Today, April 8, 2014.

 

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