NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Federal Agencies Ignore Recommendations to Improve Efficiency, Fraud, Waste

January 2, 2015

Government inefficiency is old news, but you might be surprised by how old some of that news is.  Luke Rosiak of the Washington Examiner analyzed recommendations from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to federal agencies on ways to combat waste, fraud and abuse. What did he find? A total of 8,899 recommendations from the GAO for improving operations that have been ignored by federal agencies.

The GAO is a nonpartisan agency that audits federal agencies and looks for waste, fraud and other problems in the government, issuing reports weekly on everything from Medicare fraud to ways that agencies can generate more accurate cost estimates. These reports generally entail a list of recommendations from the GAO to the agency involved. Unfortunately, there are thousands of "open recommendations" that agencies have never followed.

Rosiak offers examples:

  • The GAO warned the government in 1996 that domestic airlines could be targeted by terrorists without better passenger screening -- five years before the attacks of September 11, 2001.
  • Sixty-three of the GAO's recommendations to the Department of Veterans Affairs have been ignored from 2000 to 2010, including a 2012 recommendation that the VA take action to "ensure reliable measurement of veterans' wait times for medical appointments." This year, it was revealed that VA hospitals had secret waiting lists in order to obscure patients' real wait times.
  • As far back as 1998, the GAO found 20,000 individuals receiving food stamps from more than one state through fraud and recommended a national system to monitor the food stamp program -- another open recommendation.
  • Since 1991, there are 266 open recommendations that have been issued from the GAO to the IRS, including ways to stop major tax fraud.
  • The Department of Defense has the most open recommendations of any federal agency, followed by the Department of Homeland Security.

Rosiak says the oldest open recommendation is from 1982, involving the Air Force and excessive overtime pay.

Source: Luke Rosiak, "U.S. agencies ignore thousands of suggestions to cut waste, stop fraud," Washington Examiner,' December 28, 2014. 


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