Government Operations:

Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government Programs, Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue

GAO-11-318SP: Published: Mar 1, 2011. Publicly Released: Mar 1, 2011.

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What GAO Found

Overlap and fragmentation among government programs or activities can be harbingers of unnecessary duplication. In this report we include 81 areas for consideration drawn from GAO's prior and ongoing work. We present 34 areas where agencies, offices, or initiatives have similar or overlapping objectives or provide similar services to the same populations; or where government missions are fragmented across multiple agencies or programs. We also present 47 additional areas—beyond those directly related to duplication, overlap, or fragmentation—describing other opportunities for agencies or Congress to consider taking action that could either reduce the cost of government operations or enhance revenue collections for the Treasury. All of these areas span a range of agencies and government missions: agriculture, defense, economic development, energy, general government, health, homeland security, international affairs, and social services. Collectively, by reducing or eliminating duplication, overlap, or fragmentation and addressing these other cost savings opportunities, the federal government could potentially save billions of tax dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services—but these actions will require some difficult decisions.

Go to Report at a Glance to view the table summarizing all 81 areas we include in this report. The areas identified in this report are not intended to represent the full universe of duplication, overlap, or fragmentation within the federal government.



Why GAO Did This Study

This is GAO's first annual report to Congress in response to a new statutory requirement that GAO identify federal programs, agencies, offices, and initiatives, either within departments or governmentwide, which have duplicative goals or activities. Congress asked GAO to conduct this work and to report annually on our findings. (See Pub. L. No. 111-139, § 21, 124 Stat. 29 (2010), 31 U.S.C. § 712 Note.) This work will inform government policymakers as they address the rapidly building fiscal pressures facing our national government.

Objectives

(1) identify federal programs or functional areas where unnecessary duplication, overlap, or fragmentation exists, the actions needed to address such conditions, and the potential financial and other benefits of doing so

(2) highlight opportunities for additional potential savings or increased revenues.

Introduction

This is GAO's first annual report to Congress in response to a new statutory requirement that GAO identify federal programs, agencies, offices, and initiatives, either within departments or governmentwide, which have duplicative goals or activities. Congress asked GAO to conduct this work and to report annually on our findings.1 This work will inform government policymakers as they address the rapidly building fiscal pressures facing our national government. GAO's most recent update of its annual simulations of the federal government's fiscal outlook underscores the need to address the long-term sustainability of the federal government's fiscal policies. 2 Since the end of the recent recession, the gross domestic product has grown slowly and unemployment has remained at a high level. While the economy is still recovering and in need of careful attention, there is widespread agreement on the need to look not only at the near term but also at steps that begin to change the long-term fiscal path as soon as possible without slowing the recovery. With the passage of time, the window to address the challenge narrows and the magnitude of the required changes grows. GAO's simulations show continually increasing levels of debt that are unsustainable over time absent changes in current fiscal policies.

In this report we are including 81 areas for consideration based on GAO's prior and ongoing work. We present 34 areas where agencies, offices, or initiatives have similar or overlapping objectives or provide similar services to the same populations; or where government missions are fragmented across multiple agencies or programs. These areas span a range of government missions: agriculture, defense, economic development, energy, general government, health, homeland security, international affairs, and social services. Within and across these missions, this report touches on hundreds of federal programs, affecting virtually all major federal departments and agencies. Overlap and fragmentation among government programs or activities can be harbingers of unnecessary duplication. Reducing or eliminating duplication, overlap, or fragmentation could potentially save billions of tax dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services. The areas identified in this report are not intended to represent the full universe of duplication, overlap, or fragmentation within the federal government. We will continue to identify additional issues in future reports.

Given today's fiscal environment, we also present in this report 47 additional areas-beyond those directly related to duplication, overlap, or fragmentation-describing other opportunities for agencies or Congress to consider taking action that could either reduce the cost of government operations or enhance revenue collections for the Treasury. These cost-savings and revenue opportunities also span a wide range of federal government agencies and mission areas.

Many of the issues included in this report are focused on activities that are contained within single departments or agencies. In those cases, agency officials can generally achieve cost savings or other benefits by implementing existing GAO recommendations or by undertaking new actions suggested in this report. However, a number of issues we have identified, particularly in the duplication area, span multiple organizations and therefore may require higher-level attention by the executive branch or enhanced congressional oversight or legislative action.

In some cases, there is sufficient information available today to show that if actions are taken to address individual issues summarized in this report, financial benefits ranging from the tens of millions to several billion dollars annually may be realized by addressing that single issue. For example, while the Department of Defense is making limited changes to the governance of its military health care system, broader restructuring could result in annual savings of up to $460 million. Similarly, we developed a range of options that could reduce federal revenue losses by up to $5.7 billion annually by addressing potentially duplicative policies designed to boost domestic ethanol production. Likewise, we identified a number of other opportunities for cost savings or enhanced revenues such as reducing improper federal payments totaling billions of dollars, or addressing the gap between taxes owed and paid, potentially involving billions of dollars. Collectively, these savings and revenues could result in tens of billions of dollars in annual savings, depending on the extent of actions taken.

In other cases, precise estimates of the extent of unnecessary duplication among certain programs, and the cost savings that can be achieved by eliminating any such duplication, are difficult to specify in advance of congressional and executive branch decision making. In some instances, needed information on program performance is not readily available; the level of funding in agency budgets devoted to overlapping or fragmented programs is not clear; and the implementation costs that might be associated with program consolidations or terminations, among other variables, are difficult to predict. For example, we identified 44 federal employment and training programs that overlap with at least one other program in that they provide at least one similar service to a similar population. However, our review of three of the largest programs showed that the extent to which individuals receive the same services from these programs is unknown due to program data limitations. In addition, Congress' determinations in making policy decisions and actions that agencies may take would affect the potential savings associated with any given option.3 Nevertheless, considering the amount of program dollars involved in the issues we have identified, even limited adjustments could result in significant savings.

Given the challenges noted above, careful, thoughtful actions will be needed to address many of the issues discussed in this report, particularly those involving potential duplication. Additionally, in January 2011, the President signed the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010,4 updating the almost two-decades-old Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA).5 Implementing provisions of the new act—such as its emphasis on establishing outcome-oriented goals covering a limited number of crosscutting policy areas—could play an important role in clarifying desired outcomes, addressing program performance spanning multiple organizations, and facilitating future actions to reduce unnecessary duplication, overlap, and fragmentation.

As the nation rises to meet the current fiscal challenges, GAO will continue to assist Congress and federal agencies in reducing duplication, overlap, or fragmentation; achieving cost savings; and enhancing revenues. In GAO's future annual reports, we will look at additional federal programs to identify further instances of duplication, overlap, or fragmentation, as well as other opportunities to reduce the cost of government operations or increase revenues to the government. Likewise, we will continue to monitor developments in the areas we have already identified. Issues of duplication, overlap, and fragmentation will be addressed in our routine audit work during the year as appropriate and summarized in our annual reports.

Objectives

Section 21 of Public Law 111-139, enacted in February 2010, requires GAO to conduct routine investigations to identify federal programs, agencies, offices, and initiatives with duplicative goals and activities within departments and governmentwide and to report on its findings. As agreed with key congressional committees, our objectives in this report are to (1) identify federal programs or functional areas where unnecessary duplication, overlap, or fragmentation exists, the actions needed to address such conditions, and the potential financial and other benefits of doing so; and (2) highlight opportunities for additional potential savings or increased revenues. This provision also asked GAO to identify specific areas where Congress may wish to cancel budget authority it has previously provided—a process known as rescission. To date, GAO's work has not identified a basis for proposing specific funding rescissions.

Report at a Glance

We are including 81 areas for consideration drawn from GAO's prior and ongoing work. These areas span a range of federal government missions. Within and across these missions, this report touches on hundreds of federal programs, affecting virtually all major federal departments and agencies. The following interactive graphic gives an overview of the content of this report and summarizes 34 areas of potential duplication, overlap, or fragmentation as well as 47 additional cost saving and revenue-enhancing areas. In addition, links in this graphic will take you to area summaries that present options for the executive branch or Congress to consider. You can also go to Potential Duplication and Other Cost Savings here or in the navigation area on the left to read these area summaries.

 

Duplication, Overlap, or Fragmentation Areas

Missions Areas Identified and Savings Potential Federal Agencies and Programs Where Duplication, Overlap, or Fragmentation May Occur
Agriculture Fragmented food safety system has caused inconsistent oversight, ineffective coordination, and inefficient use of resources The Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Food and Drug Administration are the primary food safety agencies, but 15 agencies are involved in some way 
Defense Realigning DOD's military medical command structures and consolidating common functions could increase efficiency and result in projected savings ranging from $281 million to $460 million annually Department of Defense (DOD), including the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs, the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force 
Defense Opportunities exist for consolidation and increased efficiencies to maximize response to warfighter urgent needs At least 31 entities within DOD 
Defense Opportunities exist to avoid unnecessary redundancies and improve the coordination of counter-improvised explosive device efforts The services and other components within DOD 
Defense Opportunities exist to avoid unnecessary redundancies and maximize the efficient use of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities Multiple intelligence organizations within DOD 
Defense A departmentwide acquisition strategy could reduce DOD's risk of costly duplication in purchasing tactical wheeled vehicles DOD, including Army and Marine Corps 
Defense Improved joint oversight of DOD's prepositioning programs for equipment and supplies may reduce unnecessary duplication DOD including Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps 
Defense DOD business systems modernization: opportunities exist for optimizing business operations and systems About 2,300 investments across DOD 
Economic Development The efficiency and effectiveness of fragmented economic development programs are unclear USDA, Department of Commerce (Commerce), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Small Business Administration (SBA); 80 programs involved 
Economic Development The federal approach to surface transportation is fragmented, lacks clear goals, and is not accountable for results Five agencies within the Department of Transportation (DOT); over 100 programs involved 
Economic Development Fragmented federal efforts to meet water needs in the U.S.-Mexico border region have resulted in an administrative burden, redundant activities, and an overall inefficient use of resources USDA, Commerce's Economic Development Administration, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Indian Health Service, Department of the Interior's (Interior) Bureau of Reclamation, HUD, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 
Energy Resolving conflicting requirements could more effectively achieve federal fleet energy goals A number of agencies, including the Department of Energy (Energy) and the General Services Administration (GSA) play a role overseeing the governmentwide requirements 
Energy Addressing duplicative federal efforts directed at increasing domestic ethanol production could reduce revenue losses by up to $5.7 billion annually EPA and the Department of the Treasury 
General Government Enterprise architectures: key mechanisms for identifying potential overlap and duplication Governmentwide 
General Government Consolidating federal data centers provides opportunity to improve government efficiency and achieve significant cost savings Twenty-four federal agencies 
General Government Collecting improved data on interagency contracting to minimize duplication could help the government leverage its vast buying power Governmentwide 
General Government Periodic reviews could help identify ineffective tax expenditures and redundancies in related tax and spending programs, potentially reducing revenue losses by billions of dollars Governmentwide 
Health Opportunities exist for DOD and VA to jointly modernize their electronic health record systems DOD and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) 
Health VA and DOD need to control drug costs and increase joint contracting whenever it is cost-effective DOD and VA 
Health HHS needs an overall strategy to better integrate nationwide public health information systems Multiple agencies, led by HHS 
Homeland Security/Law Enforcement Strategic oversight mechanisms could help integrate fragmented interagency efforts to defend against biological threats USDA, DOD, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), HHS, Interior, and others; more than two dozen presidentially appointed individuals with responsibility for biodefense 
Homeland Security/Law Enforcement DHS oversight could help eliminate potential duplicating efforts of interagency forums in securing the northern border DHS and other federal law enforcement partners 
Homeland Security/Law Enforcement The Department of Justice plans actions to reduce overlap in explosives investigations, but monitoring is needed to ensure successful implementation Department of Justice's Federal Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives 
Homeland Security/Law Enforcement TSA's security assessments on commercial trucking companies overlap with those of another agency, but efforts are under way to address the overlap DHS's Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and DOT 
Homeland Security/Law Enforcement DHS could streamline mechanisms for sharing security-related information with public transit agencies to help address overlapping information Three information-sharing mechanisms funded by DHS and TSA 
Homeland Security/Law Enforcement FEMA needs to improve its oversight of grants and establish a framework for assessing capabilities to identify gaps and prioritize investments DHS's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); 17 programs involved 
International Affairs Lack of information sharing could create the potential for duplication of efforts between U.S. agencies involved in development efforts in Afghanistan Principally DOD and the U.S. Agency for International Development 
International Affairs Despite restructuring, overlapping roles and functions still exist at State's Arms Control and Nonproliferation Bureaus Two bureaus within the Department of State (State) 
Social Services Actions needed to reduce administrative overlap among domestic food assistance programs USDA, DHS, and HHS; 18 programs involved 
Social Services Better coordination of federal homelessness programs may minimize fragmentation and overlap Seven federal agencies, including Department of Education (Education), HHS, and HUD; over 20 programs involved 
Social Services Further steps needed to improve cost-effectiveness and enhance services for transportation-disadvantaged persons USDA, DOT, Education, Interior, HHS, HUD, Department of Labor (Labor), and VA; 80 programs involved 
Training, Employment, and Education Multiple employment and training programs: providing information on colocating services and consolidating administrative structures could promote efficiencies Education, HHS, and Labor, among others; 44 programs involved 
Training, Employment, and Education Teacher quality: proliferation of programs complicates federal efforts to invest dollars effectively Ten agencies including DOD, Education, Energy, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation; 82 programs involved 
Training, Employment, and Education Fragmentation of financial literacy efforts makes coordination essential More than 20 different agencies; about 56 programs involved 

Other Cost Savings or Revenue Enhancement Opportunities

Missions Areas Identified and Savings Potential Federal Agencies and Programs Where Duplication, Overlap, or Fragmentation May Occur
Agriculture Reducing some farm program payments could result in savings from $800 million over 10 years to up to $5 billion annually Department of Agriculture 
Defense DOD should assess costs and benefits of overseas military presence options before committing to costly personnel realignments and construction plans, thereby possibly saving billions of dollars Department of Defense (DOD) 
Defense Total compensation approach is needed to manage significant growth in military personnel costs DOD 
Defense Employing best management practices could help DOD save money on its weapon systems acquisition programs DOD 
Defense More efficient management could limit future costs of DOD's spare parts inventory DOD, including the military services and Defense Logistics Agency 
Defense More comprehensive and complete cost data can help DOD improve the cost-effectiveness of sustaining weapon systems DOD 
Defense Improved corrosion prevention and control practices could help DOD avoid billions in unnecessary costs over time DOD's Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight 
Economic Development Revising the essential air service program could improve efficiency and save over $20 million annually Department of Transportation 
Economic Development Improved design and management of the universal service fund as it expands to support broadband could help avoid cost increases for consumers Federal Communications Commission; four programs involved 
Economic Development The Corps of Engineers should provide Congress with project-level information on unobligated balances U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 
Energy Improved management of federal oil and gas resources could result in approximately $1.75 billion over 10 years Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, and Office of Natural Resources Revenue 
General Government Efforts to address governmentwide improper payments could result in significant cost savings About 20 federal agencies; over 70 programs involved 
General Government Promoting competition for the over $500 billion in federal contracts can potentially save billions of dollars over time Governmentwide 
General Government Applying strategic sourcing best practices throughout the federal procurement system could save billions of dollars annually Governmentwide 
General Government Adherence to new guidance on award fee contracts could improve agencies' use of award fees and produce savings Several agencies, including DOD and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration 
General Government Agencies could realize cost savings of at least $3 billion by continued disposal of unneeded federal real property Governmentwide, including DOD, General Services Administration (GSA), and Department of Veterans Affairs 
General Government Improved cost analyses used for making federal facility ownership and leasing decisions could save tens of millions of dollars Primarily GSA, the central leasing agent for most agencies 
General Government The Office of Management and Budget's IT Dashboard reportedly has already resulted in $3 billion in savings and can further help identify opportunities to invest more efficiently in information technology Governmentwide 
General Government Increasing electronic filing of individual income tax returns could reduce IRS's processing costs and increase revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars Department of the Treasury's (Treasury) Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 
General Government Using return on investment information to better target IRS enforcement could reduce the tax gap; for example, a 1 percent reduction would increase tax revenues by $3 billion IRS 
General Government Better management of tax debt collection may resolve cases faster with lower IRS costs and increase debt collected IRS 
General Government Broadening IRS's authority to correct simple tax return errors could facilitate correct tax payments and help IRS avoid costly, burdensome audits IRS 
General Government Enhancing mortgage interest information reporting could improve tax compliance IRS 
General Government More information on the types and uses of canceled debt could help IRS limit revenue losses on forgiven mortgage debt IRS 
General Government Better information and outreach could help increase revenues by tens or hundreds of millions of dollars annually by addressing overstated real estate tax deductions IRS 
General Government Revisions to content and use of Form 1098-T could help IRS enforce higher education requirements and increase revenues IRS 
General Government Many options could improve the tax compliance of sole proprietors and begin to reduce their $68 billion portion of the tax gap IRS 
General Government IRS could find additional businesses not filing tax returns by using third-party data, which show such businesses have billions of dollars in sales IRS 
General Government Congress and IRS can help S corporations and their shareholders be more tax compliant, potentially increasing tax revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars each year IRS 
General Government IRS needs an agencywide approach for addressing tax evasion among the at least 1 million networks of businesses and related entities IRS 
General Government Opportunities exist to improve the targeting of the $6 billion research tax credit and reduce forgone revenue Treasury and IRS 
General Government Converting the new markets tax credit to a grant program may increase program efficiency and significantly reduce the $3.8 billion 5-year revenue cost of the program Treasury 
General Government Limiting the tax-exempt status of certain governmental bonds could yield revenue Treasury 
General Government Adjusting civil tax penalties for inflation potentially could increase revenues by tens of millions of dollars per year, not counting any revenues that may result from maintaining the penalties' deterrent effect IRS 
General Government IRS may be able to systematically identify nonresident aliens reporting unallowed tax deductions or credits IRS 
General Government Tracking undisbursed balances in expired grant accounts could facilitate the reallocation of scarce resources or the return of funding to the Treasury Governmentwide 
Health Preventing billions in Medicaid improper payments requires sustained attention and action by CMS Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) 
Health Federal oversight over Medicaid supplemental payments needs improvement, which could lead to substantial cost savings CMS 
Health Better targeting of Medicare's claims review could reduce improper payments CMS 
Health Potential savings in Medicare's payments for health care CMS 
Homeland Security/Law Enforcement Department of Homeland Security's management of acquisitions could be strengthened to reduce cost overruns and schedule and performance shortfalls Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 
Homeland Security/Law Enforcement Improvements in managing research and development could help reduce inefficiencies and costs for homeland security DHS 
Homeland Security/Law Enforcement Validation of TSA's behavior-based screening program is needed to justify funding or expansion Transportation Security Administration (TSA) 
Homeland Security/Law Enforcement More efficient baggage screening systems could result in about $470 million in reduced TSA personnel costs over the next 5 years TSA 
Homeland Security/Law Enforcement Clarifying availability of certain customs fee collections could produce a one-time savings of $640 million DHS's Customs and Border Protection (CBP) 
Income Security Social Security needs data on pensions from noncovered earnings to better enforce offsets and ensure benefit fairness, resulting in estimated $2.4-$2.9 billion savings over 10 years Social Security Administration 
International Affairs Congress could pursue several options to improve collection of antidumping and countervailing duties CBP 

Potential Duplication

This report presents 34 areas where agencies, offices, or initiatives have similar or overlapping objectives or provide similar services to the same populations; or where government missions are fragmented across multiple agencies or programs. These areas span a range of government missions: agriculture, defense, economic development, energy, general government, health, homeland security, international affairs, and social services. In some cases, there is sufficient information to estimate potential savings or other benefits if actions are taken to address individual issues. In those cases, financial benefits ranging from hundreds of millions to several billion dollars annually may be realized. In other cases, estimates of cost savings or other benefits would depend upon what congressional and executive branch decisions were made, including how certain GAO recommendations are implemented. Additionally, information on program performance, the level of funding in agency budgets devoted to overlapping or fragmented programs, and the implementation costs that might be associated with program consolidations or terminations, are factors that could impact actions to be taken as well as potential savings. Links in the information below will take you to area summaries that include actions for the executive branch or Congress to consider as well as a "Framework for Analysis" providing the methodology used to conduct the work and a list of related GAO products for further information.

Other Cost Savings

Given today's fiscal environment, this report also summarizes 47 additional areas—beyond those directly related to duplication, overlap, or fragmentation—where the government can achieve other cost savings or enhance revenue collections. These other cost savings and revenue opportunities also span a wide range of federal government missions and agencies. In many cases, there is sufficient information to show that if actions are taken to address individual issues summarized, financial benefits ranging from tens of millions to tens of billions of dollars annually may be realized. In other cases, however, estimates for savings or revenues would depend upon the nature and scope of congressional and executive branch decisions, or additional programmatic data may be needed. Links in the information below will take you to area summaries that include estimated cost savings or additional revenues, if available, and actions for the executive branch or Congress to consider. These areas summaries also contain a "Framework for Analysis" providing the methodology used to conduct the work and a list of related GAO products for further information.

General government

Scope & Methodology

For the purposes of our analysis, we considered "duplication" to occur when two or more agencies or programs are engaged in the same activities or provide the same services to the same beneficiaries. We used the term "overlap" when multiple agencies or programs have similar goals, engage in similar activities or strategies to achieve them, or target similar beneficiaries. We used the term "fragmentation" to refer to those circumstances in which more than one federal agency (or more than one organization within an agency) is involved in the same broad area of national need. The presence of fragmentation and overlap can suggest the need to look closer at the potential for unnecessary duplication. However, determining whether and to what extent programs are actually duplicative requires programmatic information that is often not readily available. In certain instances in this report, we use the term "potential duplication" to include duplication, overlap, or fragmentation.

To identify federal programs or functional areas where unnecessary duplication, overlap, or fragmentation exists, we reviewed GAO's ongoing and previously completed work. In some instances, issues related to potential for duplication, overlap, or fragmentation were identified from GAO's body of work 6 specifically examining these issues across government. This body of work included GAO's reviews of a variety of federal programs, such as those related to training, employment, and education and social services. In other instances, we drew examples of potential duplication, overlap, or fragmentation from our ongoing audits and evaluations not specifically focused on these issues but where they were identified as challenges to the efficient and effective operation of certain federal programs or activities we reviewed. While our report includes examples where duplication, overlap, or fragmentation can hinder program performance and cause inefficiencies, we recognize that there could be instances where some degree of program duplication, overlap, or fragmentation may be warranted due to the nature or magnitude of the federal effort.

We also considered the work of other agencies such as the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office. While the work of other agencies informed our selection of specific areas for this year's report, we only included issues where we had current work or could update prior work within our reporting time frames. Therefore, this report is not a comprehensive survey of all government programs where unnecessary duplication, overlap, or fragmentation may exist. Rather, this report highlights a number of federal programs and activities where GAO's work indicates these issues exist. Each issue area contained in this report lists the relevant GAO reports and publications upon which it is based. Those prior reports contain additional information on GAO's supporting work and methodologies. For issues based on GAO work that has not yet been published or those that update prior GAO work, we provide additional information on the methodologies used in that ongoing work or update in the Framework for Analysis section of the issue area.

To identify the actions needed to address unnecessary duplication, overlap, or fragmentation, we reviewed and updated prior GAO work and recommendations and in some cases completed ongoing work or conducted new work to identify what additional actions agencies may need to take and Congress may wish to consider. In some instances, the long-standing nature or significance of certain issues, especially those that transcended more than one agency, led us to suggest the potential need for heightened congressional oversight. To identify the potential financial and other benefits that might result from actions addressing duplication, overlap, or fragmentation, we reviewed and updated prior GAO work and conducted ongoing work with a specific focus on the potential for cost savings. In some cases, we had sufficient information to show that if actions are taken to address the individual issues summarized in thisreport, opportunities for financial benefits ranging from the tens of millions to several billion dollars annually might be realized. Estimating the benefits that could result from eliminating unnecessary duplication, overlap, or fragmentation was not possible in some cases because information about the extent of unnecessary duplication among certain programs is not available. Further, the financial benefits that can be achieved from eliminating duplication, overlap, or fragmentation were not always quantifiable in advance of congressional and executive branch decision making, and information was not readily available on program performance, the level of funding devoted to overlapping programs, or the implementation costs and time frames that might be associated with program consolidations or terminations.

In light of the long-term fiscal imbalances that the federal government faces, we highlighted other opportunities for potential cost saving or revenue enhancements in addition to those associated with duplication, overlap, or fragmentation. Specifically, we reviewed and updated the existing groupings of major cost-saving opportunities that had previously been identified and summarized on GAO's Web site, 7 drawn from our past reviews of government programs at high risk of fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement or in need of restructuring. Similar to the duplication, overlap, and fragmentation work, we also reviewed our ongoing and recently completed work to determine whether the existing areas could be updated within the reporting time frames for this report, and we identified additional opportunities for consideration in areas where we had updated information available. We provided estimates of the cost savings or revenue enhancements, where available. At the beginning of each section, we include tables listing the areas for consideration, including information on the agencies and programs8 involved and cost savings or revenue enhancements, if available.

We will continue to examine issues related to duplication, overlap, and fragmentation in our ongoing work. In our future mandated annual reports, we will look at additional federal programs to identify further instances of duplication, overlap, or fragmentation as well as highlight additional opportunities to reduce the cost of government operations or increase revenues to the government. Likewise, we will continue to monitor developments in the areas we have already identified. Issues of duplication, overlap, or fragmentation also may be addressed in our routine audit work during the year and will be summarized in our mandated annual reports as appropriate.

This report is based substantially upon ongoing audits and previously completed GAO products, which were conducted in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards (GAGAS), or with GAO's Quality Assurance Framework, as appropriate. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. In one instance GAGAS did not apply to the work we did to identify the revenue enhancement opportunity pertaining to unobligated balances in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Customs User Fee Account. This work reviewed the agency's justification for certain estimates in the President's annual budget request to Congress rather than an audit and was performed in accordance with all relevant sections of GAO's Quality Assurance Framework. The framework requires that we plan and perform the engagement to obtain sufficient and appropriate evidence to meet our stated objectives and to discuss any limitations in our work. We believe that the information and data obtained, and the analysis conducted, provide a reasonable basis for any findings and conclusions in this product. For issues being reported on for the first time, GAO sought comments from the agencies involved and incorporated their comments, as appropriate. We briefed the Office of Management and Budget on a draft of this report. We conducted the work for the overall report from February 2010 through February 2011.

Report Contacts

Please direct questions about specific potential duplication and other cost savings areas discussed in this report to the GAO area contact identified on each area's page.

This report was prepared under the coordination of Patricia Dalton, Chief Operating Officer, who may be reached at (202) 512-5600, or DaltonP@gao.gov; and Janet St. Laurent, Managing Director, Defense Capabilities and Management, who may be reached at (202) 512-4300, or StLaurentJ@gao.gov.

This report was signed by:

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Gene L. Dodaro

Comptroller General of the United States

Abbreviations

BAC Bureau of Arms Control
AFR Agency Financial Report
AFV alternative fuel vehicle
AHLTA Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application
ARS Agricultural Research Service
ATF Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
AUR Automated Underreporter Program
BEA business enterprise architecture
BEST Border Enforcement Security Task Force
BLM Bureau of Land Management
BOEMRE Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement
BPA blanket purchase agreement
BRAC base realignment and closure
CBP Customs and Border Protection
CDE Community Development Entities
CFDA Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
CDFI Community Development Financial Institution
CERP Commander's Emergency Response Program
CIO Chief Information Officer
CMS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
COBRA Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985
Commerce Department of Commerce
Corrosion-Office Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight
DHS Department of Homeland Security
DLA Defense Logistics Agency
DNDO Domestic Nuclear Detection Office
DOD Department of Defense
DOT Department of Transportation
DSH Disproportionate Share Hospital
EAS Essential Air Service
Education Department of Education
EDA Economic Development Administration
EHR Electronic Health Record
Energy Department of Energy
EPA Environmental Protection Agency
EPAct Energy Policy Act
FAM Foreign Affairs Manual
FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation
FCC Federal Communications Commission
FDA Food and Drug Administration
FEMA Federal Emergency Management Agency
FFS fee-for-service
FMCSA Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
FPDS-NG Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation
FSIS Food Safety and Inspection Service
FSSI Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative
FTA Federal Transit Administration
FTHBC First-Time Homebuyer Credit
Fund Universal Service Fund
GAGAS generally accepted government auditing standards
GHG greenhouse gas
GPO Government Pension Offset
GPRA Government Performance and Results Act
GSA General Services Administration
HHA home health agency
HHS Department of Health and Human Services
HUBZone Historically Underutilized Business Zone
HUD Department of Housing and Urban Development
IBET Integrated Border Enforcement Team
IED improvised explosive device
IG Inspector General
Interior Department of the Interior
IPERA Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act
IRS Internal Revenue Service
ISN Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation
ISR intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance
IT information technology
JIEDDO Joint IED Defeat Organization
Justice Department of Justice
Labor Department of Labor
MAS Multiple Award Schedule
MEA math error authority
MHS Military Health System
MPPR multiple procedure payment reduction
NAFTA North American Free Trade Agreement
NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NMTC New Markets Tax Credit
NP Bureau of Nonproliferation
NSLP National School Lunch Program
OFPP Office of Federal Procurement Policy
OMB Office of Management and Budget
ONRR Office of Natural Resources and Revenue
O&S operating and support
PAR Performance and Accountability Report
PBL performance-based logistics
PMS Payment Management System
RAC recovery audit contractor
RFS renewable fuel standard
ROI return on investment
S&T Science and Technology Directorate
SBA Small Business Administration
SNAP Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
SPOT Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques
SSA Social Security Administration
State Department of State
STEM science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
TANF Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Treasury Department of the Treasury
TSA Transportation Security Administration
USAC Universal Service Administrative Company
USAID U.S. Agency for International Development
USDA Department of Agriculture
USICH U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
VA Department of Veterans Affairs
VC Bureau of Verification and Compliance
VCI Bureau of Verification, Compliance and Implementation
VEETC Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit
VistA Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture
WEP Windfall Elimination Provision
WIA Workforce Investment Act
WIC Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children

Footnotes

1) Pub. L. No. 111-139, § 21, 124 Stat. 29 (2010), 31 U.S.C. § 712 Note.

2) GAO, (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 15, 2010). Additional information on the federal fiscal outlook, federal debt, and the outlook for the state and local government sector is available at:

3) The mandate calling for this report also asked GAO to identify specific areas where Congress may wish to cancel budget authority it has previously provided-a process known as rescission. To date, GAO's work has not identified a basis for proposing specific funding rescissions.

4) Pub. L. No. 111-352, 124 Stat. 3866 (2011).

5) Pub. L. No. 103-62, 107 Stat. 285 (1993).

6) For example, see GAO-AIMD-97-146, Managing for Results: Using the Results Act to Address Mission Fragmentation and Program Overlap (Washington, D.C.: Aug. 29, 1997); GAO/GGD-00-106, Managing for Results: Barriers to Interagency Coordination (Washington, D.C.: Mar 29, 2000); and GAO-05-325SP 21st Century Challenges: Reexamining the Base of the Federal Government (Washington, D.C.:Feb. 2005).

7) See http://www.gao.gov/highrisk/opportunities/.

8) To provide the most current information, we cited only those programs that were identified in GAO reports published in 2008 or later.

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