2014 Annual Report

Additional Opportunities to Reduce Fragmentation, Overlap, and Duplication and Achieve Other Financial Benefits

GAO-14-343SP: Published: Apr 8, 2014. Publicly Released: Apr 8, 2014.

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. Related work and GAO's Action Tracker—a tool that tracks progress on GAO's specific suggestions for improvement—are available here.

 

What GAO Found

In its 2014 report, GAO presents 64 actions that the executive branch or Congress could take to improve efficiency and effectiveness across 26 areas that span a broad range of government missions and functions.
  • GAO suggests 19 actions to address evidence of fragmentation, overlap, or duplication in 11 new areas across the government missions of defense, health, income security, information technology, and international affairs.
  • GAO also presents 45 opportunities for executive branch agencies or Congress to take actions to reduce the cost of government operations or enhance revenue collections for the Treasury across 15 areas of government.

Defining Fragmentation, Overlap, and Duplication

Duplication and Overlap Definitions

Introduction

This fourth annual report for 2014 identifies 26 areas where agencies may be able to achieve greater efficiencies or effectiveness. Within these 26 areas, we identify 64 actions that the executive branch and Congress could take to reduce fragmentation, overlap, or duplication, as well as other cost savings or revenue enhancement opportunities.

Letter

April 8, 2014

Congressional Addressees

The federal government faces an unsustainable fiscal path.1 Changing this 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.2 In addition, we identify additional opportunities to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness that result in cost savings or enhanced revenue collection.

In our first three annual reports issued from 2011 through 2013, we 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.3 Figure 1 outlines the definitions we use for fragmentation, overlap, and duplication for this work. In these first three reports, we identified approximately 380 actions that executive branch agencies and Congress could take to address the opportunities for greater efficiency and effectiveness that we identified.

Figure 1: Definitions of Fragmentation, Overlap, and Duplication

Definitions of Fragmentation, Overlap, and Duplication

This report is our fourth in the series, and it identifies additional areas where a broad range of federal agencies may be able to achieve greater efficiency or effectiveness. For each area, we suggest actions that the executive branch or Congress could take to reduce, eliminate, or better manage fragmentation, overlap, or duplication, or achieve other financial benefits. In addition to identifying new areas, we have continued to monitor the progress executive branch agencies and Congress have made in addressing the areas we previously identified. With the release of this report, we are also updating GAO's Action Tracker, a publicly accessible website containing the status of actions suggested in this series of reports. The website will allow executive branch agencies, Congress, and the public to track the progress the government is making in addressing the issues we have identified.

Section I of this report presents new areas in which we found evidence that fragmentation, overlap, or duplication exists among federal programs or activities. Although it may be appropriate for multiple agencies or entities to be involved in the same programmatic or policy area due to the nature or magnitude of the federal effort, the instances of fragmentation, overlap, or duplication we describe in Section I occur in areas where multiple programs and activities may be creating inefficiencies. Section II describes new areas where the federal government may achieve cost savings or enhance revenue collections. This report is based upon work GAO previously conducted in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. See appendix II for more information on our scope and methodology.

New Opportunities to Improve Efficiency and Effectiveness Identified across the Federal Government

In this report, we present 64 actions that the executive branch and Congress could take to improve efficiency and effectiveness across 26 areas that span a broad range of government missions and functions. We suggest 19 actions to address 11 new areas in which we found evidence of fragmentation, overlap, or duplication in government missions such as defense, health, income security, information technology, and international affairs. In addition, we present 45 opportunities for executive branch agencies or Congress to take actions to reduce the cost of government operations or enhance revenue collections for the Treasury across 15 areas of government.

19 Suggested Actions to Address New Evidence of Fragmentation, Overlap, or Duplication in 11 Areas

We consider programs or activities to be fragmented when more than one federal agency (or more than one organization within an agency) is involved in the same broad area of national need, which may result in inefficiencies in how the government delivers services. We identified fragmentation in multiple programs we reviewed, including the following:

  • Contracting for Defense Health Care Professionals: The Department of Defense (DOD) does not have a consolidated agency-wide strategy to contract for health care professionals, resulting in a contracting approach that is largely fragmented. Although some of the military departments have attempted to consolidate their health care staffing requirements through joint-use contracts, such contracts only accounted for approximately 8 percent of the $1.14 billion in obligations for health care professionals in fiscal year 2011.4 Moreover, in May 2013 we identified several instances in which numerous task orders were awarded by a single military department for the same type of health care professional in the same area or facility. For example, we identified 24 separate task orders for contracted medical assistants at the same military treatment facility. By not consolidating its requirements, this facility missed the opportunity to achieve potential cost savings and other efficiencies. To reduce fragmentation and achieve greater efficiencies, DOD should develop a consolidated agency-wide strategy to contract for health care professionals.
  • Interoperable Radio Communications Systems: The Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and the Treasury have decided to independently modernize their own wireless communications systems rather than pursuing a joint development project. As a result, their communications systems, which represent hundreds of millions of dollars in investment, may not be interoperable and may not enable the most effective response to natural disasters, criminal activities, and domestic terrorism. Collaboration on a joint communications solution has not been successful because the departments could not agree on a common outcome or purpose. They have not established a collaborative governance structure with a process for decision making and resolving disputes, and they have not developed a joint strategy for moving forward. A coordinated communications approach could improve effectiveness and help the federal government realize potential savings.

Fragmentation can also be a harbinger for overlap or duplication. Overlap occurs when multiple agencies or programs have similar goals, engage in similar activities or strategies to achieve them, or target similar beneficiaries. We found overlap among federal programs or initiatives in a variety of areas, including the following:

  • Disability and Unemployment Benefits: We found that 117,000 individuals received concurrent cash benefit payments, in fiscal year 2010, from the Disability Insurance and Unemployment Insurance programs totaling more than $850 million because current law does not preclude the receipt of overlapping benefits. Individuals may be eligible for benefit payments from both Disability Insurance and Unemployment Insurance due to differences in the eligibility requirements; however, in such cases, the federal government is replacing a portion of lost earnings not once, but twice. The President's Fiscal Year 2015 Budget submission proposes to eliminate these overlapping benefits, and during the 113th Congress, bills have been introduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate containing language to reduce Disability Insurance payments to individuals for the months they collect Unemployment Insurance benefits. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), this action could save $1.2 billion over 10 years in the Social Security Disability Insurance program. Congress should consider passing legislation to offset Disability Insurance benefit payments for any Unemployment Insurance benefit payments received in the same period.
  • Minority AIDS Initiative: We found that 10 different agencies and offices within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are providing assistance through multiple funding streams and programs designed to address the impact of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) on racial and ethnic minorities. In addition, we found that the grantees funded through this fragmented system are providing overlapping services, meaning that the grantees are providing similar services to similar populations. The fragmented nature of the funding has often required grantees to manage grants from several sources. Consequently, grantees must complete multiple similar administrative requirements, increasing administrative costs for those grantees and deterring others from applying for grants to serve racial and ethnic minorities with HIV/AIDS. To address the identified fragmentation and overlap, HHS should consolidate the disparate funding streams and seek legislation as necessary to achieve a consolidated approach.

In other aspects of our work, we found evidence of duplication, which occurs when two or more agencies or programs are engaged in the same activities or provide the same services to the same beneficiaries. Examples of duplicative, or potentially duplicative, federal efforts include the following:

  • POW/MIA Mission: We found that the roles and responsibilities among eight DOD organizations that account for persons missing in military conflicts are not clearly articulated in existing DOD directives or instructions. Disagreements over roles and responsibilities have led to discord and lack of collaboration among the entities that account for missing persons and have impeded DOD's ability to establish a community-wide plan for achieving the mandated goal of providing funds, personnel, and other resources to account for 200 missing persons a year by 2015.

In addition, lack of clear roles and responsibilities may lead to duplicative efforts. For example, two of DOD's laboratories have employees with responsibilities for analyzing equipment and artifacts that may be associated with a specific missing person, such as pieces of uniforms and parachutes, but the memorandum of agreement governing work between these two entities does not establish clear roles and responsibilities. As a result, we found that one laboratory had requested duplicate analyses by referring cases that had already been resolved to another laboratory for analysis and reporting. In another example, we found that two different organizations conduct investigations for missing persons from World War II in Europe and have asserted operational responsibilities for performing these investigations. To avoid such duplicative or potentially duplicative efforts, DOD should help unify the community's fragmented organizational structure and provide a more centralized chain of command, among other things.

  • Defense Satellite Control Operations: We reported in April 2013 that DOD has increasingly deployed dedicated satellite control operations networks as opposed to shared networks that support multiple kinds of satellites. For example, at one Air Force base in 2013, eight separate control centers operated 10 satellite programs. While dedicated networks can offer some benefits to programs, they can also be more costly to maintain and have led to a fragmented, and potentially duplicative, approach that requires more infrastructure and personnel to manage when compared to shared networks.

While opportunities exist to improve DOD satellite control operations, we identified certain barriers that hinder DOD's ability to increase the use of shared networks, such as the inability to quantify all spending on satellite ground control operations and the absence of DOD-wide guidance or plan that supports the implementation of alternative methods for performing satellite control operations. These barriers also have hindered DOD's ability to achieve optimal satellite control systems that would result in cost savings in this area. To address the duplication and inefficiencies that arise from dedicated satellite control operations networks, DOD should take actions to improve its ability to identify and then assess the appropriateness of a shared versus dedicated satellite control system.

45 New Actions to Reduce Costs or Enhance Revenues Identified in 15 Areas

We suggest 45 actions that the executive branch and Congress can take to reduce the cost of government operations and enhance revenue collections for the Treasury in 15 new areas. Examples of these actions include rescinding unused funds, ensuring that only intended program participants receive benefits, improving data to identify potential efficiencies, conducting comprehensive analyses of program options, enhancing taxpayer services, and increasing tax revenue collections.

  • Rescinding unused funds: Congress may wish to consider rescinding all or part of the remaining credit subsidy appropriations to the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program, unless the Department of Energy (DOE) can demonstrate demand for new ATVM loans and viable applications. We reported in March 2013 that DOE last issued a loan under this program in March 2011 and was not actively considering any applications for the remaining $4.2 billion in credit subsidy appropriations under the ATVM loan program. Also, most applicants and manufacturers we had spoken to indicated that the costs of participating outweigh the benefits to their companies and that problems with other DOE programs have tarnished the ATVM loan program, which may have led to a deficit of applicants. Since our March 2013 report, DOE has received one application seeking approximately $200 million.

DOE recently stated that it has begun new outreach efforts to potential applicants that will increase awareness and interest in the program and lead to additional applications in 2014. However, DOE has not further demonstrated a demand for ATVM loans, such as new applications that meet all the program eligibility requirements and involve amounts sufficient to justify retaining the remaining credit subsidy appropriations, nor has it explained how it plans to address challenges cited by previous applicants including a burdensome review process. Determining whether program funds will be used is important, particularly in a constrained fiscal environment, as unused appropriations could be rescinded or directed toward other government priorities.

  • Ensuring only intended participants receive benefits: To ensure that only those in financial need are granted Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) pension benefits, Congress should consider passing legislation that would establish a look-back review and penalty period for claimants who transfer assets for less than fair market value prior to applying for pension benefits. According to the Congressional Budget Office, taking this action could reduce VA's direct spending by an average of about $4 million annually. VA's pension program is intended to provide economic benefits to wartime veterans with financial need. It is available to low-income wartime veterans who are age 65 and older or who are under age 65 but are permanently and totally disabled as a result of conditions unrelated to their military service.

In other means-tested programs like Medicaid, a look-back review is conducted to determine if the applicant transferred assets for less than fair market value prior to applying. Individuals who transfer assets for less than fair market value during the months prior to applying may be denied eligibility for the benefit for a period of time, known as the penalty period. We found that despite being a means-tested program, the VA pension program permitted claimants to transfer assets and reduce their net worth prior to applying for pension benefits.

  • Improving data to identify potential efficiencies: To more fully understand the strengths and risks of foreclosure mitigation actions and help homeowners avoid preventable foreclosures, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), VA, and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) should periodically analyze the effectiveness and long-term costs and benefits of their foreclosure mitigation strategies and actions. Taking this action could potentially save taxpayers millions of dollars on an annual and recurring basis.5 Specifically, agencies should use analysis results to re-evaluate their mitigation approaches and provide additional guidance to servicers to effectively target mitigation actions. Further, if FHA, VA, and USDA do not maintain data needed to consider this information, they should require servicers to provide the information.

In our review of agencies' foreclosure mitigation efforts, we found that FHA, VA, and USDA had not incorporated analyses of long-term costs into their foreclosure loss-mitigation efforts. Evaluating the costs of various loan modification actions would enable agencies to more effectively help borrowers keep their homes and protect taxpayers' interests. For example, we estimated that if changes to FHA's loss mitigation program reduced claims related to defaults by 1 percent, FHA could save about $176 million annually.

  • Conducting comprehensive analyses of program options: To help DOD ensure that the geographic combatant commands are properly sized and resourced to meet their assigned missions, DOD should take actions to improve the transparency of the commands' authorized manpower, assigned personnel, and mission- and headquarters-support costs and to help meet its Africa-related missions at substantially reduced cost. In May 2013, we found four primary weaknesses in DOD's management of combatant command resources that challenge the department's ability to make informed decisions about command size and efficient use of resources. Furthermore, in September 2013, we reported that DOD could potentially achieve cost savings of tens of millions of dollars or more annually by considering options to move the location of U.S. Africa Command's headquarters from overseas to the United States and that DOD's decision to maintain the headquarters for the U.S. Africa Command in Germany was not well-supported by DOD's analysis.
  • Enhancing online taxpayer services: To improve services to taxpayers and encourage greater tax law compliance, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) should take actions designed to improve interactive web services provided to taxpayers. In its 2012 online strategy document, IRS estimated that enhancing online services, such as providing taxpayers with the ability to access account information, would produce hundreds of millions of dollars through improved operational efficiencies. In April 2013, we reported that IRS does not offer dynamic account access, which is the ability for users to make account changes after confirming their identity online.

Other federal and state taxing authorities provide a broader range of online services to their customers, including dynamic interactive account access. For example, the Social Security Administration allows users to start or change direct deposit benefit payments online. The New York and California state tax agencies provide dynamic account access allowing taxpayers to view tax account balances and recent payments, to respond to notices, and to edit addresses. Such advancements to IRS online services would improve service to taxpayers and encourage greater tax law compliance.

  • Increasing tax revenue collections: We identify three actions that the federal government should take to increase tax revenue collections by hundreds of millions of dollars over a 5-year period by denying certain privileges or payments to individuals with delinquent federal tax debt. For example, Congress should consider enabling and requiring the Secretary of State to screen and prevent individuals who owe federal taxes from receiving passports. We found that in fiscal year 2008, passports were issued to about 16 million individuals; of these, over 1 percent collectively owed over $5.8 billion in unpaid federal taxes as of September 30, 2008. According to a 2012 CBO estimate, the federal government can save about $500 million over a 5-year period on the revocation or denial of passports in case of certain federal tax delinquencies.

The Commissioner of the IRS should explore further opportunities to enhance the collection of unpaid federal taxes from Medicaid providers. For example, IRS should seek legislation to modify existing law to allow for more efficient collection of outstanding tax debts from Medicaid providers. In July 2012, we found that a small percentage of Medicaid providers that had about $791 million of unpaid federal taxes during fiscal year 2009 received a total of about $6.6 billion in Medicaid reimbursements in the year. Current federal law does not allow the recovery of reimbursement payments to Medicaid providers because they are not considered federal payments. We also reported that IRS could have collected between $22 million and $330 million from Medicaid providers with unpaid taxes in three states (New York, Texas, and Florida) in 2009 if it had been authorized to recoup reimbursement payments.

Among eight other actions directed to the Commissioner of the IRS to enhance tax revenue collection, we recommend that the Commissioner conduct an analysis designed to measure the extent of continued offshore tax evasion and take appropriate action based on the analysis. As of February 2014, IRS's four offshore voluntary disclosure programs, which offered incentives for taxpayers to disclose their offshore accounts and pay delinquent taxes, interest, and penalties, have resulted in more than 43,000 disclosures by taxpayers and over $6 billion in revenue collected. However, based on reviews of IRS data, in March 2013, we reported that IRS may be missing attempts by taxpayers to circumvent the programs, because we identified more than 200,000 instances where it appeared that taxpayers with unreported foreign accounts may have chosen not to participate in one of IRS's offshore programs.

Executive Branch and Congress Continue to Make Progress in Addressing Previously Identified Issues

In addition to the new actions identified for this report, we have continued to monitor the progress that executive branch agencies and Congress have made in addressing the issues we identified in our last three reports. In these reports, we identified approximately 380 actions that the executive branch and Congress could take to reduce, eliminate, or better manage fragmentation, overlap, or duplication or achieve other potential financial benefits.6

Congress and Executive Branch Agencies Have Addressed Several Previously Identified Actions

We evaluated progress by determining an overall assessment rating for each area and an individual assessment rating for each action within an area (see fig. 2). We found that the executive branch agencies and Congress have generally made progress in addressing the 162 areas we previously identified. In total, as of March 6, 2014, the date we completed our audit work, 30 of the 162 areas (19 percent) were addressed, 100 (62 percent) were partially addressed, and 24 (15 percent) were not addressed.7 We also found that, of the approximately 380 actions needed in these areas, 123 (32 percent) were addressed, 172 (44 percent) were partially addressed, and 75 (19 percent) were not addressed.8

Figure 2: Assessment of 2011, 2012, and 2013 Areas and Actions Needed, as of March 6, 2014

Assessment of 2011, 2012, and 2013 Areas and Actions Needed, as of March 6, 2014

Note: In assessing overall progress for an area, we determined that an area was "addressed" if all actions in that area were addressed; "partially addressed" if at least one action needed in that area showed some progress toward implementation but not all actions were addressed; and "not addressed" if none of the actions needed in that area was addressed or partially addressed.

In assessing actions suggested for Congress, we applied the following criteria: "addressed" means relevant legislation has been enacted and addresses all aspects of the action needed; "partially addressed" means a relevant bill has passed a committee, the House of Representatives, or the Senate, or relevant legislation has been enacted but only addressed part of the action needed; and "not addressed" means a bill may have been introduced but did not pass out of a committee, or no relevant legislation has been introduced. In assessing actions suggested for the executive branch, we applied the following criteria: "addressed" means implementation of the action needed has been completed; "partially addressed" means the action needed is in development, or started but not yet completed; and "not addressed" means the administration, the agencies, or both have made minimal or no progress toward implementing the action needed.

Actions and areas assessed as "consolidated or other" were not assessed this year due to additional work or other information we considered. Additionally, we did not provide an overall assessment for two areas reported in 2011 and one area reported in 2012 because we added new actions to those areas that have not yet been assessed.

Congress and executive branch agencies have made progress toward addressing our identified actions, as shown in figure 3. An additional 58 actions have been assessed as addressed over the past year. These addressed actions include 19 actions identified in 2011, 21 actions identified in 2012, and 18 actions identified in 2013.

Figure 3: Progress in Addressing 2011, 2012, and 2013 Actions as of the 2013 and 2014 Annual Reports

Progress in Addressing 2011, 2012, and 2013 Actions as of the 2013 and 2014 Annual Reports

Note: In assessing actions suggested for Congress, we applied the following criteria: "addressed" means relevant legislation has been enacted and addresses all aspects of the action needed; "partially addressed" means a relevant bill has passed a committee, the House of Representatives, or the Senate, or relevant legislation has been enacted but only addressed part of the action needed; and "not addressed" means a bill may have been introduced but did not pass out of a committee, or no relevant legislation has been introduced. In assessing actions suggested for the executive branch, we applied the following criteria: "addressed" means implementation of the action needed has been completed; "partially addressed" means the action needed is in development, or started but not yet completed; and "not addressed" means the administration, the agencies, or both have made minimal or no progress toward implementing the action needed. Actions assessed as "consolidated or other" were not assessed this year due to additional work or other information we considered. Additionally, 2013 actions were not assessed in 2013 since that was the year that the actions were identified.

The following examples illustrate the progress that has been made over the past year:

  • Farm Program Payments: In our 2011 annual report, we stated that Congress could save up to $5 billion annually by reducing or eliminating direct payments. Direct payments are fixed annual payments to farmers based on a farm's history of crop production. Farmers received them regardless of whether they grew crops and even in years of record income. The Agricultural Act of 2014 eliminated direct payments and should save approximately $4.9 billion annually from fiscal year 2015 through fiscal year 2023, according to CBO.9
  • Passenger Aviation Security Fees: In our 2012 annual report, we presented options for adjusting the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) passenger security fee—a uniform fee on passengers of U.S. and foreign air carriers originating at airports in the United States—to offset billions of dollars in civil aviation security costs. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, enacted December 26, 2013, modifies the passenger security fee from its current per enplanement structure ($2.50 per enplanement with a maximum one-way-trip fee of $5.00) to a structure that increases the passenger security fee to a flat $5.60 per one-way-trip, effective July 1, 2014.10 Pursuant to the act, collections under this modified fee structure will contribute to deficit reduction as well as to offsetting TSA's aviation security costs.11

Specifically, the act identifies $12.6 billion in fee collections that, over a 10-year period beginning in fiscal year 2014 and continuing through fiscal year 2023, will contribute to deficit reduction.12 Fees collected beyond those identified for deficit reduction are available, consistent with existing law, to offset TSA's aviation security costs. According to the House of Representatives and Senate Committees on the Budget, and notwithstanding amounts dedicated for deficit reduction, collections under the modified fee structure will offset about 43 percent of aviation security costs, compared to the approximately 30 percent currently offset under the existing fee structure.13

  • Combat Uniforms: In our 2013 annual report, we noted that DOD employed a fragmented approach for acquiring combat uniforms and could improve efficiency, better protect servicemembers, and realize cost savings through increased collaboration among the military services. Over the past year DOD and Congress addressed all three actions that we identified. In September 2013, DOD developed and issued guidance on joint criteria that will help to ensure that future service-specific uniforms will provide equivalent levels of performance and protection.

A provision in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 established as policy that the Secretary of Defense will eliminate the development and fielding of service-specific combat and camouflage utility uniforms in order to adopt and field common uniforms for specific environments to be used by all members of the armed forces. Subject to certain exceptions, the provision also prohibits the military departments from adopting new pattern designs or uniform fabrics unless they will be adopted by all services or the uniform is already in use by another service.14 In addition, DOD must issue implementing guidance requiring the military departments to, among other things, ensure that new uniforms meet commanders of combatant command's geographic and operational requirements and continually work together to assess and develop new uniform technologies to improve warfighter survivability.15

We estimate that executive branch and congressional efforts to address these and other actions from fiscal year 2011 through fiscal year 2013 have resulted in over $10 billion in realized cost savings to date, and projections of these efforts have estimated that billions of dollars more in savings will accrue over the next ten years.16 Table 1 highlights addressed actions that result in or lead to cost savings or enhanced revenues. In addition to these addressed actions, implementing our other suggested actions could result in tens of billions of dollars more in cost savings and enhanced revenues.

Table 1: Selected Addressed Actions with Associated Cost Savings and Enhanced Revenues

Annual reportAddressed actions
2011Domestic Ethanol Production (Area 13): Congress allowed the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit to expire at the end of 2011, which eliminated duplicative federal efforts directed at increasing domestic ethanol production and reduced revenue losses by $4.5 billion in fiscal year 2012 and $6.1 billion in fiscal year 2013.
2011Farm Program Payments (Area 35): The Agricultural Act of 2014 eliminated direct payments to farmers and should save approximately $4.9 billion annually from fiscal year 2015 through fiscal year 2023, according to CBO.
2011Baggage Screening Systems (Area 78): The Transportation Security Administration estimates that the agency saved a cumulative $104.5 million in personnel costs from fiscal years 2011 through 2013 from its efforts to replace or modify older checked baggage screening systems with more efficient in-line systems, as GAO suggested.
2012Air Force Food Service (Area 33): In 2011, the Air Force issued a memorandum to the Major Commands directing a review of existing food service contracts. As a result, the Air Force reviewed and renegotiated the food service contracts at eight installations for a total savings of over $2.5 million per year. In addition, according to Air Force officials, all food service contracts were validated again during fiscal year 2012 for additional savings of over $2.2 million per year. Air Force officials said that the Air Force will review contracts annually for areas where costs can be reduced.
2012Overseas Defense Posture (Area 37): The United States Forces Korea conducted a series of consultations with the military services to evaluate the costs and benefits associated with tour normalization, as GAO suggested, and decided not to move forward with the full tour normalization initiative because it was not affordable. DOD’s decision to not move forward with this initiative resulted in a cost avoidance of $3.1 billion from fiscal years 2012 through 2016.
2012Auto Recovery Office (Area 39): The Department of Labor did not systematically track, measure, or assess the Auto Recovery Office’s assistance to auto communities, and the office is going through an orderly wind-down in fiscal year 2014, thereby saving up to $1.2 million per year.
2012Passenger Aviation Security Fees (Area 48): The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 modifies the passenger security fee from its current per enplanement structure ($2.50 per enplanement with a maximum one-way-trip fee of $5.00) to a structure that increases the passenger security fee to a flat $5.60 per one-way-trip, effective July 1, 2014.a Pursuant to the act, collections under this modified fee structure will contribute to deficit reduction as well as to offsetting TSA’s aviation security costs.b Specifically, the act identifies $12.6 billion in fee collections that, over a 10-year period beginning in fiscal year 2014 and continuing through fiscal year 2023, will contribute to deficit reduction.c Fees collected beyond those identified for deficit reduction are available, consistent with existing law, to offset TSA’s aviation security costs. According to the House of Representatives and Senate Committees on the Budget, and notwithstanding amounts dedicated for deficit reduction, collections under the modified fee structure will offset about 43 percent of aviation security costs, compared to the approximate 30 percent currently offset under the existing fee structure.d

Source: GAO.

aSee Pub. L. No. 113-67, § 601(b), 127 Stat. at 1187 (2013), amending 49 U.S.C. § 44940(c).

bIn addition, the first $250 million in fees collected each fiscal year are, consistent with existing law, to be deposited in the Aviation Security Capital Fund for use in supporting aviation security-related airport capital improvement projects or for other purposes specified in statute. See 49 U.S.C. §§ 44923(h), 44940(i).

cSee 49 U.S.C. § 44940(i) (identifying, among other things, the specific amount to be credited as offsetting receipts and deposited in the general fund of the Treasury each fiscal year, 2014 through 2023).

dIn addition to the passenger security fee, TSA also currently imposes a fee on air carriers—the Aviation Security Infrastructure Fee—to further offset the costs of aviation security. See 49 U.S.C. § 44940(a)(2). Pursuant to the Bipartisan Budget Act, TSA's authority to collect this fee will expire effective October 1, 2014. See Pub. L. No. 113-67, § 601(a), 127 Stat. at 1187 (2013).

Identified Actions Span the Federal Government

The 188 areas and approximately 440 actions that we identified from 2011 to 2014 span a wide range of activities and programs and touch virtually all major federal departments and agencies. Specifically, the reports collectively identify opportunities to reduce, eliminate, or better manage fragmentation, overlap, and duplication or achieve other financial benefits within all 15 cabinet-level executive departments and at least 17 other federal entities. As figure 4 shows, many of our actions are directed to those departments and agencies that make up a majority of federal obligations. For example, we have directed 108 actions to DOD, 49 actions to HHS, and 65 actions to Treasury, which, combined, represented 53 percent of federal obligations in fiscal year 2012.

Figure 4: Fiscal Year 2012 Obligations and Number of Actions by Agency

Fiscal Year 2012 Obligations and Number of Actions by Agency

Notes: Individual actions needed are counted multiple times, when they are directed to more than one federal department or agency. Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole percent for items greater than 1 percent.

aU.S. Postal Service obligations are primarily funded by postal revenues, although the U.S. Postal Service receives minimal appropriations for overseas voting and mail for the blind. Additionally, the U.S. Postal Service has a maximum $15 billion in borrowing authority.

bTreasury's percentage of fiscal year 2012 obligations includes interest on the national debt.

cThe judicial branch represented 0.2 percent of federal obligations in fiscal year 2012.

dActions have also been directed to agencies and other federal entities that each represented less than 0.2 percent of federal obligations in fiscal year 2012.

To help maintain attention on these issues, in 2013, we released GAO's Action Tracker, a publicly accessible, online website of the areas and actions presented in this series of annual reports. GAO's Action Tracker includes progress updates and assessments of the actions we have suggested for Congress and executive branch agencies. Going forward, GAO's Action Tracker will continue to report progress on the 188 areas and approximately 440 suggested actions presented in our 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 annual reports. We plan to add areas and suggested actions identified and future reports to GAO's Action Tracker and periodically update the status of all identified areas and activities.

Sustained Leadership Attention Is Critical to Advancing and Maintaining Progress on Suggested Actions

Although Congress and executive branch agencies have made notable progress toward addressing the actions we have identified, further steps are needed to fully address the remaining actions, as shown in table 2. More specifically, 64 percent of actions directed to Congress and 63 percent of actions directed to executive branch agencies identified in 2011, 2012, and 2013 remain partially addressed or not addressed.

Table 2: Status of 2011, 2012, and 2013 Actions Directed to Congress and the Executive Branch, as of March 6, 2014

Congressa Executive Branchb
StatusNumber of actions Percentage Number of actions Percentage
Addressed1827%10533%
Partially addressed101516250
Not addressed32484313
Consolidated or other69134

Source: GAO.

Note: In assessing actions suggested for Congress, we applied the following criteria: "addressed" means relevant legislation has been enacted and addresses all aspects of the action needed; "partially addressed" means a relevant bill has passed a committee, the House of Representatives, or the Senate, or relevant legislation has been enacted but only addressed part of the action needed; and "not addressed" means a bill may have been introduced but did not pass out of a committee, or no relevant legislation has been introduced. In assessing actions suggested for the executive branch, we applied the following criteria: "addressed" means implementation of the action needed has been completed; "partially addressed" means the action needed is in development, or started but not yet completed; and "not addressed" means the administration, the agencies, or both have made minimal or no progress toward implementing the action needed. Actions assessed as "consolidated or other" were not assessed this year due to additional work or other information we considered.

aCongress took steps that fully addressed one action and partially addressed another action directed to executive branch agencies.

bExecutive branch agencies took steps that addressed three actions directed to Congress.

Sustaining momentum and making significant progress on our suggested actions for reducing, eliminating, or better managing fragmentation, overlap, or duplication or achieving other potential financial benefits cannot occur without demonstrated commitment by executive branch leaders and continued oversight by Congress. A number of the issues that we have identified are complex, and implementing many of the actions will take time and sustained leadership. As our work has shown, committed leadership is needed to overcome the many barriers to working across agency boundaries, such as agencies' concerns about protecting jurisdiction over missions and control over resources or incompatible procedures, processes, data, and computer systems.17 However, securing the leadership support necessary to address issues that span multiple agencies can be particularly challenging and can take time. For example, 37 percent of our prior fragmentation, overlap, and duplication actions directed to one agency are now addressed. In contrast, 26 percent of prior fragmentation, overlap, and duplication actions directed to more than one agency are now fully addressed.

Sustained leadership commitment at executive branch agencies and within Congress has contributed to meaningful progress in some areas. For example, DOD leadership attention has led to significant progress toward addressing several suggested actions, including integrating department-wide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance investment decisions to avoid unnecessary redundancies and realigning and establishing a new agency to oversee and begin consolidating common military health care functions. In particular, in 2011 we reported that the responsibilities and authorities for DOD's military health system were distributed among several organizations within DOD with no central command authority or single entity accountable for reducing costs and achieving efficiencies. In part in response to our recommendation that DOD assess alternatives for restructuring the military health care governance structure, DOD assessed alternatives and, in October 2013, established the new Defense Health Agency, which it anticipates will achieve greater system integration and increase accountability for health outcomes and costs.

Without sustained leadership attention, the executive branch and Congress may miss opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government programs and activities at a time when federal resources are constrained. For example, in March 2012, we recommended that HHS cancel the Medicare Advantage (MA) Quality Bonus Payment Demonstration given that most of the bonuses would be paid to plans with average performance and that the demonstration's design precludes a credible evaluation of its effectiveness.18 However, because all MA contracts for the demonstration's last year, 2014, are now in place, canceling the demonstration is no longer possible. By continuing the demonstration, HHS missed an opportunity to achieve significant cost savings in 2014—approximately $2 billion, based on GAO's analysis of estimates by actuaries at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Although the executive branch agencies and Congress have made some progress in addressing some suggested actions, many other actions require leadership attention to ensure that they are fully addressed. Without increased or renewed leadership focus, agencies may miss opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their programs and save taxpayers' dollars. The following are examples of areas where additional leadership attention could potentially promote progress:

  • Information Technology: Several significant actions remain to be addressed in the area of information technology, many of which require agencies to work together to improve systems. For example, progress by DOD and VA to put in place key management capabilities to jointly improve their electronic health records systems has slowed over the past year, and the departments have continued to pursue separate modernization efforts. In February 2014, we reported that DOD and VA abandoned their plans to develop a single, integrated electronic health record system for both departments and based their decision to do so on the assertion that pursuing separate systems would be less expensive and faster. However, we found that they had not developed cost and schedule analyses that compared the departments' separate efforts, as well as an effort to make the two systems interoperable, with estimates for the original single system approach to support this assertion. Through continued duplication of these efforts, the departments may be incurring higher-than-necessary system development and operation costs and missing opportunities to support higher-quality health care for servicemembers and veterans.
  • Medicaid Program: Both Congress and the administration have demonstrated commitment to making the fiscal and program integrity of Medicaid a priority, but sustained oversight is necessary to fully address many of the actions we have identified. In 2013, CMS took steps to reduce duplication in reviewing and auditing states' Medicaid claims, resulting in cost savings for the Medicaid Integrity Program and more efficiently using resources.

However, several of our previously identified actions relating to Medicaid financing have not been fully addressed. In 2011, we recommended that CMS take steps to improve oversight of certain high-risk Medicaid supplemental payments—known as non-disproportionate-share-hospital, or non-DSH, payments—that are above and beyond regular Medicaid payments states make to providers, and are often made to hospitals and other providers who, for example, serve high-cost Medicaid beneficiaries. These payments have increased significantly in recent years and, unlike other supplemental payments, non-DSH payments are not required under federal law, do not have a specified statutory or regulatory purpose, and are not subject to firm dollar limits at the facility or state level.

CMS had stated that it had no plans to impose reporting and auditing requirements that we recommended on states because, in its view, legislation had been crucial to implementing similar requirements for other payments. Therefore, in 2012, we suggested that Congress require CMS to improve state reporting, clarify permissible methods of calculating, and require states to submit annual audits of these supplemental payments. We noted that doing so could save hundreds of millions, or billions, of dollars. CMS took some initial steps to improve guidance to states, but further efforts by CMS and Congress could improve oversight of these payments and potentially result in financial savings to Medicaid.

  • DOD Joint Basing: In our 2013 annual report, we noted that by adopting a more rigorous and comprehensive department-wide approach to managing the implementation of joint basing, DOD may be able to achieve millions of dollars of cost savings and efficiences. We also found that DOD leadership had not provided clear direction to joint basing officials on achieving the cost savings and efficiency goals of joint basing. Therefore, we recommended that DOD develop and implement a plan that provides measurable goals linked to achieving savings and efficiencies at the joint bases and provide guidance to the joint bases that directs them to identify opportunities for cost savings and efficiencies.

DOD disagreed with this recommendation and stated that senior DOD leaders had decided against savings targets because of the complexity involved in establishing the joint bases. DOD also stated that no action is required because the joint bases were increasingly meeting installation service standards with resources below planned levels. However, because DOD does not have a method to determine if these reductions in installation support costs are a result of joint basing initiatives rather than due to department-wide budget cuts, it is not clear to what extent DOD has saved money specifically from joint basing initiatives. As of March 6, 2014, DOD had taken no action to implement this recommendation. Without a plan that outlines measurable goals, DOD will continue to miss opportunities to achieve cost savings associated with joint basing.

  • Environmental Labs: In 2012, we reported that the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) 37 laboratories operated under the direction of 15 different senior officials using 15 different organizational and management structures. We attributed EPA's uncoordinated approach in part to the lack of a top science official with the responsibility or authority to coordinate, oversee, and make management decisions regarding major scientific activities—including the work of all 37 laboratories—throughout the agency and recommended that EPA establish a top-level science official with such authority. As of March 6, 2014, EPA had taken steps toward establishing a top-level science official with some responsibility to coordinate and oversee the laboratories, but it had not given this official the authority to make management decisions regarding scientific activities for the laboratories. Without doing so, the laboratories' activities will likely remain fragmented and largely uncoordinated.

By providing sustained leadership attention, executive branch agencies and Congress could improve the efficiency and effectiveness of federal programs. As we have previously reported, addressing the issues identified in our annual reports could lead to tens of billions of dollars of savings annually. Table 3 highlights selected opportunities that could result in cost savings or enhanced revenues.

Table 3: Selected Areas with Associated Cost-Savings and Revenue-Enhancement Opportunities in 2011 – 2013 Annual Reports

Annual reportAreas identified
2011Enterprise Architecture (Area 14): Well-defined and implemented enterprise architectures in federal agencies can lead to consolidation and reuse of shared services and elimination of antiquated and redundant mission operations, which can result in significant cost savings. For example, the Department of the Interior demonstrated that it had used enterprise architecture to modernize agency information technology operations and avoid costs through enterprise software license agreements and hardware procurement consolidation, resulting in financial savings of at least $80 million. In addition, Health and Human Services will achieve savings and cost avoidance of over $150 million between fiscal years 2011 to 2015 by leveraging its enterprise architecture to improve its telecommunications infrastructure.
2011Federal Data Centers (Area 15): Consolidating federal data centers provides an opportunity to improve government efficiency and achieve cost savings of up to $3 billion over 10 years.
2011Oil and Gas Resources (Area 45): Improved management of federal oil and gas resources could result in approximately $2 billion in additional revenue over 10 years.
2011Social Security Offsets (Area 80): Social Security needs data on pensions from noncovered earnings to better enforce offsets and ensure benefit fairness, which could result in an estimated $2.4 billion to $2.9 billion in savings over 10 years.
2012Medicare and Medicaid Fraud Detection Systems (Area 46): The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services need to ensure widespread use of its fraud detection systems to better position itself to determine and measure progress toward achieving the $21 billion in financial benefits that the agency projected as a result of implementing these systems.
2012Immigration Inspection Fee (Area 49): The air and sea passenger immigration inspection user fee should be reviewed and adjusted to fully recover the cost of the air and sea passenger immigration inspection activities conducted by the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection rather than using general fund appropriations; In 2012 this could have resulted in a reduction of about $175 million in appropriated funds used for inspection services.
2012Domestic Disaster Assistance (Area 51): The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could reduce the costs to the federal government related to major disasters declared by the President by updating the principal indicator on which disaster funding decisions are based and better measuring a state’s capacity to respond without federal assistance. For fiscal years 2004 through 2011, had FEMA adjusted the indicator for increases in inflation or personal income since 1986, fewer jurisdictions would have met the eligibility criteria for federal assistance and federal costs could have been as much as $3.59 billion lower.
2013Agricultural Quarantine Inspection Fees (Area 18): The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service could have achieved as much as $325 million in savings (based on fiscal year 2011 data, as reported in GAO’s March 2013 report) by more fully aligning fees with program costs; although the savings would be recurring, the amount would depend on the cost-collections gap in a given fiscal year and would result in a reduced reliance on U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s annual Salaries and Expenses appropriations used for agricultural inspection services.
2013Crop Insurance (Area 19): To achieve up to $1.2 billion per year in cost savings in the crop insurance program, Congress could consider limiting the subsidy for premiums that an individual farmer can receive each year, reducing the subsidy for all or high-income farmers participating in the program, or some combination of limiting and reducing these subsidies.
2013Checked Baggage Screening (Area 28): By reviewing the appropriateness of the federal cost share the Transportation Security Administration applies to agreements financing airport facility modification projects related to the installation of checked baggage screening systems, the Transportation Security Administration could, if a reduced cost share was deemed appropriate, achieve cost efficiencies of up to $300 million by 2030 and be positioned to install a greater number of optimal baggage screening systems than it currently anticipates.
2013Tobacco Taxes (Area 31): Federal revenue losses were as much as $615 million to $1.1 billion between April 2009 and 2011 because manufacturers and consumers substituted higher-taxed smoking tobacco products with similar lower-taxed products. To address future revenue losses, Congress should consider modifying tobacco tax rates to eliminate significant tax differentials between similar products.

Source: GAO.

Better Data and a Focus on Outcomes Are Essential to Improving Efficiency and Effectiveness

Addressing fragmentation, overlap, and duplication within the federal government is challenging. Even with sustained leadership, these are difficult issues to address because they may require agencies and Congress to re-examine within and across various mission areas the fundamental structure, operation, funding, and performance of a number of long-standing federal programs or activities with entrenched constituencies. As we have previously reported, these challenges are compounded by a lack of reliable budget and performance information and a comprehensive list of federal programs.

In particular, we have found that federal budget information is often not available or sufficiently reliable to identify the level of funding provided to programs or activities, making it difficult to assess and address potential duplication. In our prior annual reports, we have reported instances where agencies could not isolate budgetary information for some programs because the data were aggregated at higher levels. For example, in 2012, we reported that agencies were not able to provide complete and reliable funding information on many of the 94 nonfederal sector green building initiatives; according to agency officials, many of the initiatives are part of broader programs and, as such, the agencies do not track green building funds separately from other activities.

Without knowing the full cost of implementing programs, it is difficult for executive branch agencies or Congress to gauge the magnitude of the federal commitment to a particular area of activity or the extent to which associated federal programs are effectively and efficiently achieving shared goals. Moreover, the lack of reliable, detailed budget information makes it difficult to estimate the cost savings that could be achieved should Congress or agencies take certain actions to address identified fragmentation, overlap, and duplication. Absent this information, Congress and agencies cannot make fully informed decisions on how federal resources should be allocated and the potential budget trade-offs.

In addition, we have called attention to the need for improved and regular performance information. The regular collection and review of performance information, both within and among federal agencies, could also help executive branch agencies and Congress determine whether the return on federal investment is adequate and make informed decisions about future resource allocations. However, as we previously noted, our annual reports on fragmentation, overlap, and duplication highlight several instances in which executive branch agencies do not collect necessary performance data.

For example, in our 2013 annual report, we reported that VA and DOD did not require that all of their health care collaboration sites—locations where the departments share health resources—develop and use performance measures to assess their effectiveness and efficiency, including any cost savings achieved from their collaborative efforts. We noted that without comprehensive measures, the agencies lack information that could help decision makers assess all collaboration sites' overall progress in meeting the departments' shared goals, identify areas for improvement, and make more informed decisions. Performance measurement, because of its ongoing nature, can serve as an early warning system to management and a vehicle for improving accountability to the public. To help ensure that their performance information will be both useful and used by decision makers, agencies must consider the differing information needs of various users—including those in Congress.

We have also noted that the lack of a comprehensive list, or inventory, of all federal programs makes it more difficult for executive branch agencies and Congress to determine whether proposed or existing programs are duplicative. The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA) requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to compile and make publicly available a comprehensive list of all federal programs identified by agencies, and to include the purposes of each program, how it contributes to the agency's mission, and recent funding information.19 OMB began implementing this provision by directing 24 large federal agencies to develop and publish inventories of their programs in May 2013.

Our preliminary review of these initial inventories identified concerns about the usefulness of the information being developed and the extent to which it might be able to assist executive branch and congressional efforts to identify and address fragmentation, overlap, and duplication. OMB's guidance for developing the inventories provided agencies with flexibility to define their programs by such factors as outcomes, customers, products/services, organizational structure, and budget structure. As a result, agencies took various approaches to define their programs. Many used their budget structure while others used different approaches, such as identifying programs by related outcomes or customer focus. The variation in definitions across agencies limits comparability among similar programs.

OMB also identified 12 different program types (e.g., block grants, regulatory, credit) for agencies to assign to their programs to enable sorting in the future; however, the list of program types does not include tax expenditures, which represent a substantial federal commitment.20 In addition, OMB does not yet have definitive plans on when this effort will be expanded beyond the current 24 agencies to cover all other agencies and programs. We plan to further explore these issues and report later this spring on potential ways that the federal program inventory might be improved going forward.

Despite these challenges, effective implementation of the framework originally put into place by GPRA and significantly enhanced by GPRAMA could help clarify desired outcomes, address program performance spanning multiple organizations, and facilitate future actions to reduce, eliminate, or better manage fragmentation, overlap, and duplication. In particular, GPRAMA establishes a framework aimed at taking a more crosscutting and integrated approach to focusing on results and improving government performance.

As we have previously reported, many of the critical outcomes our nation seeks to achieve require the contribution of more than one federal agency, level of government, or organization. Moreover, as our annual reports on fragmentation, overlap, and duplication have shown, in many cases a range of federal programs and activities—such as grants, regulations, and tax expenditures—spanning multiple agencies contribute to an outcome. Against this backdrop of complexity, executive branch agencies and Congress need to be able to review and compare the effectiveness of various strategies used to achieve outcomes, in terms of both implementation and impact.

In one example of how GPRAMA could help facilitate a more crosscutting approach focused on results, the act requires OMB to coordinate with executive branch agencies to establish crosscutting priority goals and to develop a federal government performance plan that defines the level of performance needed to achieve them. In March 2014, OMB released an updated list of cross-agency priority goals and plans to track progress in achieving these goals on a quarterly basis on Performance.gov.21 The crosscutting approach required by the act will provide a much needed basis for more fully integrating a wide array of federal activities as well as a cohesive perspective on the long-term goals of the federal government that is focused on priority policy areas. It could also be a valuable tool for re-examining existing programs government-wide and for considering proposals for new programs.

In addition, OMB's 2013 guidance implementing GPRAMA directs agencies, beginning in 2014, to conduct annual reviews of progress towards strategic objectives—the outcomes or impacts the agency is intending to achieve.22 Agency leaders are responsible for assessing progress on each strategic objective established in the agency's strategic plan. Effective implementation could help identify and address fragmentation, overlap, and duplication issues because as part of the strategic reviews, agencies are to identify the various organizations, programs, regulations, tax expenditures, policies, and other activities that contribute to each objective both within and outside the agency.

Where progress in achieving an objective is lagging, the reviews are intended to identify strategies for improvement, such as strengthening collaboration to better address crosscutting challenges. If successfully implemented in a way that is open, inclusive, and transparent—to Congress, delivery partners, and a full range of stakeholders—this approach could help decision makers assess the relative contributions of various programs that contribute to a given objective. Successful strategic reviews could also help decision makers identify and assess the interplay of public policy tools that are being used, to ensure that those tools are effective and mutually reinforcing, and results are being efficiently achieved.

Finally, we are developing a framework to help executive branch agencies and Congress work through issues of fragmentation, overlap, and duplication. The framework is intended to provide federal leaders a roadmap to help them identify and address fragmentation, overlap, and duplication among existing or proposed programs and assess possible solutions. For example, the framework will outline the types of information needed and present a range of policy options available to address identified fragmentation, overlap, and duplication. We plan to issue the framework later this year.

This report was prepared under the coordination of Orice Williams Brown, Managing Director, Financial Markets and Community Investment, who may be reached at (202) 512-8678 or williamso@gao.gov, and A. Nicole Clowers, Director, Financial Markets and Community Investment, who may be reached at (202) 512-8678 or clowersa@gao.gov. Specific questions about individual issues may be directed to the area contact listed at the end of each summary.

Gene L. Dodaro

Comptroller General of the United States

Report at a Glance

This report is divided into two sections. Section I of this report presents 11 areas in which we found evidence of fragmentation, overlap, or duplication among federal government programs. Section II of this report summarizes 15 additional 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.

 

Fragmentation, Overlap, or Duplication Areas

Missions Areas Identified
Defense 1. Army Workforce Planning To address potential overlap between two Army information systems that support workforce planning for weapon system maintenance, manufacturing, and other industrial operations, the Army should increase leadership attention to the issue and establish a fully developed and documented approach for completing a timely assessment of unnecessary overlap, which could lead to millions of dollars in annual savings.
Defense 2. Contracting for Defense Health Care Professionals The Department of Defense should develop a consolidated agency-wide strategy to contract for health care professionals to reduce fragmentation and achieve greater efficiencies.
Defense 3. Defense Satellite Control Operations Increased use of shared satellite control networks and leading practices within the Department of Defense could reduce fragmentation and potential duplication associated with dedicated systems, resulting in millions of dollars in savings annually.
Defense 4. Defense Studies and Analysis Research To address fragmentation in the processes used across the department to request studies and analysis research and limit the potential for overlap and duplication in research activities, the Department of Defense should establish a mechanism that requires the military services and other departmental offices to formally coordinate their annual research requests.
Defense 5. POW/MIA Mission The Department of Defense should minimize overlapping and duplicative efforts by examining options to reduce fragmentation and clarify guidance on roles and responsibilities among the eight organizations that account for missing persons and improve the effectiveness of the mission.
Health 6. Federal Autism Research Because much of the $1.2 billion that federal agencies spent on autism research from fiscal years 2008 through 2012 had the potential to be duplicative, the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee and federal agencies should improve coordination and monitoring of autism research to help avoid unnecessary duplication.
Health 7. Minority AIDS Initiative Consolidating the fragmented funding of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Minority AIDS Initiative into core HIV/AIDS funding would likely reduce grantees’ administrative burden and help the agency more efficiently and effectively provide services to minority populations who are disproportionally affected by HIV/AIDS, with the approximately $3 billion used for this purpose. In addition to fragmentation, we found that the services provided by Minority AIDS Initiative grantees overlapped with those provided by core HIV/AIDS grantees and were provided to similar populations; this overlap increases the administrative costs associated with participating in the programs.
Income Security 8. Disability and Unemployment Benefits Congress should consider passing legislation to prevent individuals from collecting both full Disability Insurance benefits and Unemployment Insurance benefits that cover the same period, which could save $1.2 billion over 10 years in the Social Security Disability Insurance program according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Income Security 9. Federal Employees' Compensation and Unemployment Benefits Changes to enhance the sharing of compensation and wage information between state and federal agencies could improve the Department of Labor’s ability to identify potentially improper payments, including inappropriately overlapping payments from the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act program and the Unemployment Insurance program administered by the states.
Information Technology 10. Interoperable Radio Communications Systems Better collaboration among agencies that rely on radio communications solutions for mission-critical operations would help to address fragmentation in their approach to improving the interoperability of radio communications systems and has the potential to achieve savings.
International Affairs 11. International Religious Freedom To promote international religious freedom more effectively, the Department of State and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom should define how they are to interact in their efforts; the lack of defined roles has at times created tensions with foreign government officials.

Other Cost Savings or Revenue Enhancement Opportunities

Missions Areas Identified
Defense 12. Combatant Command Headquarters Costs The Department of Defense could potentially achieve tens of millions or more in cost savings annually if it (1) more systematically evaluates the sizing and resourcing of its combatant commands and (2) conducts a more comprehensive analysis of options for the location of U.S. Africa Command's headquarters.
Energy 13. Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program Unless the Department of Energy can demonstrate demand for new Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loans and viable applications, Congress may wish to consider rescinding all or part of the remaining $4.2 billion in credit subsidy appropriations.
General Government 14. Coin Inventory Management The Federal Reserve should develop a process to assess factors influencing coin management costs and identify practices that could potentially lead to millions of dollars in revenue enhancement.
General Government 15. Collection of Unpaid Federal Taxes The federal government can increase tax revenue collections by hundreds of millions of dollars over a 5-year time period by identifying and taking actions to limit issuance of passports to applicants, levy payments to Medicaid providers, or identify security-clearance applicants with unpaid federal taxes.
General Government 16. Federal Real Property Ownership and Leasing The General Services Administration could potentially achieve millions of dollars in savings by using capital-planning best practices to create a long-term strategy for targeted ownership investments to replace some high-value leases.
General Government 17. Online Taxpayer Services The Internal Revenue Service could potentially realize hundreds of millions of dollars in cost savings and increased revenues by enhancing its online services, which would improve service to taxpayers and encourage greater tax law compliance.
General Government 18. Real Estate-Owned Properties Improvements to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Federal Housing Administration’s disposition and oversight practices for foreclosed properties could produce increased sales proceeds and savings from maintenance and other expenses from holding properties totaling hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
General Government 19. Reverse Auctions in Government Contracting Including Commercial Items Due to increasing government use of reverse auctions—with over $1 billion awarded in contracts in fiscal year 2012—additional guidance may help maximize opportunities to increase competition and improve the accuracy of estimated cost savings.
General Government 20. Tax Policies and Enforcement The Internal Revenue Service can realize cost savings and increase revenue by, among other things, identifying continued offshore tax evasion and evaluating whether the agency's streamlined corporate audit process is meeting its goals.
Health 21. Medicaid Demonstration Waivers Federal spending on Medicaid demonstrations could be reduced by billions of dollars if the Department of Health and Human Services were required to improve the process for reviewing, approving, and making transparent the basis for spending limits approved for Medicaid demonstrations. GAO’s work between 2002 and 2013 has shown that HHS approved several demonstrations without ensuring that they would be budget neutral to the federal government.
Income Security 22. Disability Insurance The Social Security Administration could prevent significant potential cash benefit overpayments in the Disability Insurance program by obtaining more-timely earnings data to identify beneficiaries’ work activity that is beyond program limits and suspend benefits appropriately.
Income Security 23. Veterans' and Survivors' Benefits The Department of Veterans Affairs' direct spending could be reduced—by an average of about $4 million annually, according to the Congressional Budget Office—if new statutory provisions were enacted, namely, a look-back review and penalty period for claimants who transfer assets for less than fair market value prior to applying for pension benefits that are available to low-income wartime veterans who are at least 65 years old or have disabilities unrelated to their military service. This action would help to ensure that only those in financial need receive benefits and make the program more consistent with other federal programs for low-income individuals.
Information Technology 24. Information Technology Investment Portfolio Management The Office of Management and Budget and multiple agencies could help the federal government realize billions of dollars in savings by taking steps to better implement PortfolioStat, a process to help agencies manage their information technology investments.
Social Services 25. Better Data to Mitigate Foreclosures The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Federal Housing Administration and the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Agriculture could improve outcomes and better manage the costs associated with foreclosure mitigation efforts with additional data collection and analysis, potentially saving taxpayers millions of dollars on an annual and recurring basis.
Social Services 26. Housing Choice Vouchers Rent Reform By improving data collection and analysis efforts under the Moving to Work demonstration program, the Department of Housing and Urban Development would provide Congress with information to determine which rent reform option should be implemented program-wide and thereby potentially reduce program funding by millions of dollars or extend housing assistance to additional low-income households or some combination of these outcomes.

Section I: Fragmentation, Overlap & Duplication

This section presents 11 areas in which we found evidence of fragmentation, overlap, or duplication among federal government programs.

International affairs

Section II: Cost Savings & Revenue Enhancement

This section summarizes 15 additional 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.

Objectives, Scope, & Methodology

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. This provision also requires GAO to report annually to Congress on its findings, including the cost of such duplication, and recommendations for consolidation and elimination to reduce duplication and specific rescissions (legislation canceling previously enacted budget authority) that Congress may wish to consider.23 As agreed with the key congressional committees, our objectives in this report are to (1) identify what potentially significant areas of fragmentation, overlap, and duplication as well as opportunities for cost savings and enhanced revenues exist across the federal government; and (2) identify what options, if any, exist to address fragmentation, overlap, and duplication in these areas and take advantage of opportunities for cost savings and enhanced revenues.

For the purposes of our analysis, 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 and there may be opportunities to improve how the government delivers these services. 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 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.24 This report presents 11 areas of fragmentation, overlap, or duplication where greater efficiencies or effectiveness in providing government services may be achievable. We also highlighted 15 other opportunities for potential cost saving or revenue enhancements.

GAO’s Approach

Over the course of our 2011 through 2013 annual reports we conducted a systematic and practical examination across the federal government to provide reasonable coverage for areas of potential fragmentation, overlap, and duplication government-wide.25 We continue to consider a variety of factors to determine whether such potential instances or opportunities identified in our routine audit work warrant inclusion in this annual report. Such factors included, but were not limited to, the extent of potential cost savings, opportunities for enhanced program efficiency or effectiveness, the degree to which multiple programs may be fragmented, overlapping, or duplicative, whether issues had been identified by GAO or external sources, and the level of coordination among agency programs.

Each issue area contained in Sections I and II of this report lists any respective GAO reports and publications upon which it is based. Those prior GAO reports contain more detailed information on our supporting work and methodologies. For issues that update prior GAO work, we provide additional information on the methodologies used in that update in the section entitled “How GAO Conducted Its Work” of each issue area.

Identifying Actions

To identify what actions, if any, exist to address fragmentation, overlap, and duplication and take advantage of opportunities for cost savings and enhanced revenues, we reviewed and updated prior GAO work and recommendations to identify what additional actions agencies may need to take and Congress may wish to consider. For example, we used a variety of prior GAO work identifying leading practices that could help agencies address challenges associated with interagency coordination and collaboration and evaluating performance and results achieving efficiencies.26

To identify the potential financial and other benefits that might result from actions addressing fragmentation, overlap, or duplication, we collected and analyzed data on costs and potential savings to the extent it was available. Estimating the benefits that could result from eliminating unnecessary fragmentation, overlap, or duplication was not possible in some cases because information about the extent of duplication among certain programs was 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 needed information was not readily available on, among other things, 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.

When possible, we also included tables in appendix IV that provide a detailed listing of federally-funded program names and associated budgetary information. While there is no standard definition for what constitutes a program, they may include grants, tax expenditures, centers, loans, funds, and other types of assistance. A wide variety of budgetary information may be used to convey the federal commitment to these programs. When available, we collected obligations information for fiscal year 2012 for reporting across issue areas. In some instances, obligations data were not available, but we were able to report other budgetary information, such as appropriations. In other issue areas, we did not report any budgetary information, because such information was either not available or sufficiently reliable. For example, some agencies could not isolate budgetary information for some programs, because the data were aggregated at higher levels.

We assessed the reliability of any computer-processed data that materially affected our findings, including cost savings and revenue enhancement estimates. The steps that GAO takes to assess the reliability of data vary but are chosen to accomplish the auditing requirement that the data be sufficiently reliable given the purposes it is used for in our products. GAO analysts review published documentation about the data system and Inspector General or other reviews of the data. GAO may interview agency or outside officials to better understand system controls and to assure ourselves that we understand how the data are produced and any limitations associated with the data. GAO may also electronically test the data to see if values in the data conform to agency testimony and documentation regarding valid values, or compare data to source documents. In addition to these steps GAO often compares data with other sources as a way to corroborate our findings. Per GAO policy, when data do not materially affect findings and are presented for background purposes only, we may not have assessed the reliability depending upon the context in which the data are presented.

Assessing Status of Areas and Actions

To examine the extent to which the legislative and executive branches have made progress in implementing the 162 areas we have reported on in previous annual reports on fragmentation, overlap, and duplication, we reviewed relevant legislation and documents such as budgets, policies, strategic and implementation plans, guidance, and other information related to the approximately 380 actions included in these previous reports. We also analyzed, to the extent possible, whether or not financial or other benefits have been attained, and included this information as appropriate. In addition, we discussed the implementation status of the areas with officials at the relevant agencies.

Using the legislation and documentation collected from agencies, GAO analysts and specialists working on defense, domestic, and international areas assessed progress for each of the approximately 380 actions within their areas of expertise. A core group of GAO staff examined all assessments to ensure consistent and systematic application of the criteria, and made adjustments, as appropriate.

We used the following criteria in assessing the status of areas and actions.27

  • We determined that an area was “addressed” if all actions in that area were addressed; “partially addressed” if at least one action needed in that area showed some progress toward implementation but not all actions were addressed; and “not addressed” if none of the actions needed in that area were addressed or partially addressed.
  • In assessing legislative branch actions, we applied the following criteria: “addressed” means relevant legislation is enacted and addresses all aspects of the action needed; “partially addressed” means a relevant bill has passed a committee, the House of Representatives, or the Senate, or relevant legislation has been enacted but only addressed part of the action needed; and “not addressed” means a bill may have been introduced but did not pass out of a committee, or no relevant legislation has been introduced.
  • In assessing executive branch actions we applied the following criteria: “addressed” means implementation of the action needed has been completed; “partially addressed” means the action needed is in development, started but not yet completed; and “not addressed” means the administration, the agencies, or both have made minimal or no progress toward implementing the action needed.

GAO provided drafts of these assessments to the agencies involved for their technical comments and incorporated these comments, as appropriate. In providing the drafts to the agencies for review, we communicated that we would use an as of date of March 6, 2014, for all assessments. In addition to summarizing any comments received on our assessments, we incorporated a summary of comments on the prior GAO work upon which each issue area is based. Consistent with GAO policy, we are not reprinting copies of agencies’ comment letters with this report, as the work included is based predominantly on previously issued GAO reports. Copies of agency comment letters associated with previous reports can be found in those reports, if applicable.

This report is based upon work GAO previously conducted in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 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.

Abbreviations

AFRICOM U.S. Africa Command
AFSCN Air Force Satellite Control Network
AIDS acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
AMC Army Materiel Command
ATVM Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing
AWPS Army Workload and Performance System
CAA Combating Autism Act of 2006
CAP Compliance Assurance Process
CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CIO chief information officer
CMS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
CBO Congressional Budget Office
CPC Countries of Particular Concern
CPO Cash Product Office
DHA Defense Health Agency
DHS Department of Homeland Security
DI Disability Insurance
DOD Department of Defense
DOE Department of Energy
DOJ Department of Justice
DOL Department of Labor
DPMO Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office
DSH disproportionate-share-hospital
EISA Energy Independence and Security Act
EPA Environmental Protection Agency
FAR Federal Acquisition Regulation
FECA Federal Employees’ Compensation Act
FEMA Federal Emergency Management Agency
FHA Federal Housing Administration
GPRA Government Performance and Results Act of 1993
GPRAMA GPRA Modernization Act of 2010
GSA General Services Administration
HHS Department of Health and Human Services
HIV human immunodeficiency virus
HRSA Health Resources and Services Administration
HUD Department of Housing and Urban Development
IACC Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee
IRS Internal Revenue Service
IT information technology
JPAC Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command
JPME Joint Professional Military Education
LMP Logistics Modernization Program
MA Medicare Advantage
MAI Minority AIDS Initiative
NDNH National Directory of New Hires
NIH National Institutes of Health
NSF National Science Foundation
OARC Office of Autism Research Coordination
ODNI Office of the Director of National Intelligence
OHAIDP Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy
OMB Office of Management and Budget
OPM Office of Personnel Management
PACOM U.S. Pacific Command
POW/MIA Prisoner of War/Missing in Action
QW quarterly wage
REO real estate-owned
RHS Rural Housing Service
SSA Social Security Administration
SMAIF Secretary’s MAI Fund
TSA Transportation Security Administration
UI Unemployment Insurance
USAID U.S. Agency for International Development
USCIRF United States Commission for International Religious Freedom
USDA Department of Agriculture
VA Department of Veterans Affairs

Footnotes

1) See GAO, The Federal Government’s Long-Term Fiscal Outlook, Spring 2013 Update, GAO-13-481SP(Washington, D.C.: Apr. 11, 2013), Congressional Budget Office, The 2013 Long-Term Budget Outlook (Washington, D.C.: September 2013), and Congressional Research Service, Reducing the Budget Deficit: The President’s Fiscal Commission and Other Initiatives, (Washington, D.C.: June 8, 2011).

2) Pub. L. No. 111-139, § 21, 124 Stat. 29 (2010), 31 U.S.C. § 712 Note. See appendix I for the list of congressional addressees for this work.

3) GAO, Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government Programs, Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue, GAO-11-318SP(Washington, D.C.: Mar. 1, 2011), 2012 Annual Report: Opportunities to Reduce Duplication, Overlap and Fragmentation, Achieve Savings, and Enhance Revenue, GAO-12-342SP(Washington, D.C.: Feb. 28, 2012), and 2013 Annual Report: Actions Needed to Reduce Fragmentation, Overlap, and Duplication and Achieve Other Financial Benefits, GAO-13-279SP(Washington, D.C.: Apr. 9, 2013).

4) A joint-use contract is a contract used by more than one military department or used at joint military facilities.

5) Since 2009, FHA, VA, and USDA—which collectively insured or guaranteed about $248 billion in single-family home mortgages in fiscal year 2012—have expanded their foreclosure mitigation efforts to help homeowners avoid preventable foreclosures.

6) An additional 19 actions we identified in 2011 and 2012 were not assessed this year due to additional audit work or other information we considered, and we have categorized those actions as “consolidated or other.”

7) In assessing overall progress for an area, we determined that an area was "addressed" if all actions in that area were addressed; "partially addressed" if at least one action needed in that area showed some progress toward implementation but not all actions were addressed; and “not addressed” if none of the actions needed in that area was addressed or partially addressed. In addition, four areas reported in 2011 and one area reported in 2012 were not assessed this year due to additional audit work or other information we considered, and we have categorized those areas as "consolidated or other."

8) In assessing actions suggested for Congress, we applied the following criteria: “addressed” means relevant legislation has been enacted and addresses all aspects of the action needed; “partially addressed” means a relevant bill has passed a committee, the House of Representatives, or the Senate, or relevant legislation has been enacted but only addressed part of the action needed; and “not addressed” means a bill may have been introduced but did not pass out of a committee, or no relevant legislation has been introduced. In assessing actions suggested for the executive branch, we applied the following criteria: “addressed” means implementation of the action needed has been completed; “partially addressed” means the action needed is in development, or started but not yet completed; and “not addressed” means the administration, the agencies, or both have made minimal or no progress toward implementing the action needed.

9) In February 2014, CBO estimated the reduction in spending to be about $4.5 billion annually from 2015 through 2023. However, according to a CBO representative, this amount included an assumption that automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, continued indefinitely into the future. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 established new discretionary spending limits that reduced the level of automatic spending reductions for 2014 and 2015. Pub. L. No. 113-67, 127 Stat. 1165 (2013). Without sequestration, CBO estimated the elimination of direct payments would save approximately $4.9 billion annually from 2015 through 2023. .

10) See Pub. L. No. 113-67, § 601(b), 127 Stat. at 1187 (amending 49 U.S.C. § 44940(c)).

11) In addition, the first $250 million in fees collected each fiscal year are, consistent with existing law, to be deposited in the Aviation Security Capital Fund for use in supporting aviation security-related airport capital improvement projects or for other purposes specified in statute. See 49 U.S.C. §§ 44923(h), 44940(i).

12) See 49 U.S.C. § 44940(i) (identifying, among other things, the specific amount to be credited as offsetting receipts and deposited in the general fund of the Treasury each fiscal year, 2014 through 2023).

13) In addition to the passenger security fee, TSA also currently imposes a fee on air carriers—the Aviation Security Infrastructure Fee—to further offset the costs of aviation security. See 49 U.S.C. § 44940(a)(2). Pursuant to the Bipartisan Budget Act, TSA’s authority to collect this fee will expire effective October 1, 2014. See Pub. L. No. 113-67, § 601(a), 127 Stat. at 1187.

14) See Pub. L. No. 113-66, § 352(a), (b) (2013).

15) See Pub. L. No. 113-66, § 352(f).

16) Our estimate of about $10.7 billion in realized savings to date includes savings from the Domestic Ethanol Production, Baggage Screening Systems, and Air Force Food Service areas. It does not include projected savings, revenue enhancements, or cost avoidances from the Farm Program Payments, Overseas Defense Posture, Auto Recovery Office, or Passenger Aviation Security Fees areas because those financial benefits have not yet been fully realized.

17) In addition, we have previously identified key practices that can help federal agencies enhance and sustain their collaborative efforts along with key features to consider as they implement collaborative mechanisms and work to address these actions. See GAO, Results-Oriented Government: Practices That Can Help Enhance and Sustain Collaboration among Federal Agencies, GAO-06-15(Washington, D.C.: Oct. 21, 2005) and Managing for Results: Key Considerations for Implementing Interagency Collaborative Mechanisms, GAO-12-1022(Washington, D.C.: Sept. 27, 2012).

18) We reported that the demonstration’s design precluded a credible evaluation of its effectiveness because it lacked a comparison group needed to isolate the demonstration’s effects, and because the demonstration’s bonus payments are based largely on plan performance that predates the demonstration.

19) Pub. L. No. 111-352, 124 Stat. 3866 (2011). The acronym "GPRA" in the act's title refers to the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, Pub. L. No. 103-62, 107 Stat. 285 (1993).

20) Tax expenditures are reductions in a taxpayer’s tax liability that are the result of special exemptions and exclusions from taxation, deductions, credits, deferrals of tax liability, or preferential tax rates. If the Department of the Treasury estimates are summed, an estimated $1 trillion in revenue was forgone from the 169 tax expenditures reported for fiscal year 2012, nearly the same as discretionary spending that year. Since 1994, we have recommended greater scrutiny of tax expenditures, as periodic reviews could help determine how well specific tax expenditures work to achieve their goals and how their benefits and costs compare to those of spending programs with similar goals. For more information, see our key issues page on tax expenditures at http://www.gao.gov/key_issues/tax_expenditures.

21) The cross-agency priority goals address the following areas: (1) cybersecurity; (2) climate change; (3) insider threat and security clearance; (4) job-creating investment; (5) infrastructure permitting modernization; (6) science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education; (7) servicemembers and veterans mental health; (8) customer service; (9) smarter information technology delivery; (10) strategic sourcing; (11) shared services; (12) benchmark and improve mission-support operations; (13) open data; (14) lab-to-market; and (15) people and culture.

22) OMB, Circular No. A-11, Performance Plans, Performance Reviews, and Annual Program Performance Reports (July 2013).

23) This is the first year in which we propose a rescission. See area 24, Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program.

24) We recognize that there could be instances where some degree of program fragmentation, overlap, and duplication, may be warranted due to the nature or magnitude of the federal effort.

25) See GAO-13-279SP

26) GAO, Results-Oriented Government: Practices That Can Help Enhance and Sustain Collaboration among Federal Agencies, GAO-06-15(Washington, D.C.: Oct. 21, 2005) and Managing for Results: A Guide for Using the GPRA Modernization Act to Help Inform Congressional Decision Making, GAO-12-621SP(Washington, D.C.: June 15, 2012).

27) Based on subsequent audit work that we conducted, 4 areas reported in 2011, 1 area reported in 2012, and 19 actions were not assessed this year, and we have categorized those areas and actions as “consolidated or other.” These areas and actions have either been consolidated, redirected from a Congressional to an executive branch action, or revised to reflect updated information or data that we obtained. We also added new actions to two areas reported in 2011 and one area reported in 2012 based on new work. The status of these areas and actions has not yet been assessed.

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