Budget Background

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued its annual report on government duplication today. This is the second year of a three-year process, during which the GAO will comprehensively review the federal government to identify duplication, fragmentation, and waste. Since the review’s inception, GAO has found 66 areas of duplication encompassing over 1,500 individual programs.

This year, GAO identified 32 new areas of duplication and 19 additional areas of waste and inefficiency. The report cites duplication in almost a thousand individual programs, costing taxpayers over $300 billion per year. This is on top of more than $100 billion identified in last year’s report. Examples include:

  • $3 billion spent on over 200 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education programs. GAO stated that since 2005, when it first looked at this issue, “the majority of [STEM] programs have not conducted comprehensive evaluations of how well their programs are working.”
  • 37 uncoordinated EPA laboratories and 94 “green building” programs for which costs cannot be determined because “information agencies provided was incomplete and unreliable.”
  • $736 million spent on 14 different diesel emissions programs and federal funding for 55 surface freight transportation programs.
  • 160 various housing assistance programs at a cost of $170 billion annually. 

Massive Waste From Last Year’s Report Ignored

GAO also issued an accompanying assessment of progress in eliminating duplications identified last year. This report shows that only 8 percent of the items in last year’s report have been successfully addressed. Items outstanding include:

  • 82 duplicative teacher quality programs. One year later, none of the identified programs have been consolidated or eliminated.
  • 18 duplicative domestic food and nutrition programs where “no executive action [has been] taken,” at total cost of $62.5 billion.
mostly unresolvedNote: To view Sessions' statement about the report, please click here.