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Improving Efficiency and Effectiveness

GAO's 2014 Annual Report identified 11 new areas of fragmentation, overlap, and duplication in federal programs and activities. GAO also identified 15 new opportunities for cost savings and revenue enhancement. The annual report and GAO's Action Tracker—a tool that tracks progress on GAO's specific suggestions for improvement—are available here.

View the 2014 Annual Report

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In the 2014 annual report, GAO found evidence of fragmentation, overlap, or duplication in 11 areas of government activity, and opportunities to avoid costs or enhance federal revenue in 15 areas.

All 26 areas are detailed in the 2014 annual report, and here are a few examples. Addressing concerns in the areas below could each potentially save the government $500 million or more, or lead to other important non-financial benefits:

Area Type Potential Benefit
Interoperable radio communications systems Fragmentation Effective responses to disasters, crimes, and terrorism
Disability and unemployment benefits Overlap $1.2 billion over 10 years
POW/MIA mission Duplication Better plans to provide funds, personnel, and other resources to account for missing persons
Rescinding unused funds for the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program Cost Savings $4.2 billion in credit subsidy appropriations
Denying passports or Medicaid payments to individuals with delinquent federal tax debt Revenue Enhancement At least $500 million over a 5-year period

Use GAO's Action Tracker

GAO identified 64 new actions to address concerns in the 26 areas identified in the 2014 report. These and other actions that GAO identified in previous annual reports are tracked in GAO's Action Tracker. This publicly accessible online search tool tracks and provides the implementation status of every suggested action that GAO identified in its annual reports. To date:

  • 135 actions have been addressed,
  • 202 actions have been partially addressed, and
  • 103 actions have not been addressed.

The federal government faces an unsustainable fiscal path. Changing the path will likely require difficult fiscal policy decisions to alter both long-term federal spending and revenue. Yet, in the near-term, executive branch agencies and Congress can act to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government programs and activities.

Opportunities to take action exist in areas where federal programs or activities are fragmented, overlapping, or duplicative. To highlight these opportunities, GAO is statutorily mandated to identify and report annually to Congress on federal programs, agencies, offices, and initiatives—either within departments or government-wide—that have duplicative goals or activities. In addition, GAO identifies additional opportunities to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness by means of cost savings or enhanced revenue collection.

In the first three annual reports issued from 2011 through 2013, GAO presented 162 areas where opportunities existed for executive branch agencies or Congress to reduce, eliminate, or better manage fragmentation, overlap, or duplication; achieve cost savings; or enhance revenue. Figure 1 outlines the definitions GAO used for fragmentation, overlap, and duplication for this work. In these first three reports, GAO identified approximately 380 actions that executive branch agencies and Congress could take to address the opportunities for greater efficiency and effectiveness that GAO identified.

Figure 1: Definitions of Fragmentation, Overlap, and Duplication

Duplication Definitions

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Definitions and key examples from GAO's work on duplication and cost savings.

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In his April 8, 2014, testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives, Comptroller General Gene Dodaro provides an overview of GAO's 2014 Annual Report on opportunities to reduce fragmentation, overlap, and duplication and achieve other financial benefits for the federal government. He also follows up on progress from past Annual Reports.

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Audio interview by GAO staff with Nikki Clowers, Director, Financial Markets and Community Investment

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  • Portrait of Orice Williams Brown
    • Orice Williams Brown
    • Managing Director, Financial Markets and Community Investment
    • williamso@gao.gov
    • 202-512-8678
  • Portrait of Nikki Clowers
    • Nikki Clowers
    • Director, Financial Markets and Community Investment
    • clowersa@gao.gov
    • 202-512-8678