Compendium of GAO's Views on the Cost Saving Proposals of the Grace Commission

OCG-85-1: Published: Feb 19, 1985. Publicly Released: Mar 18, 1985.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO examined issues studied and recommendations made by the President's Private Sector Survey on Cost Control, better known as the Grace Commission, to determine whether: (1) the issues and recommendations made on program management and cost control had merit; (2) legislation would be necessary to implement the recommendations; (3) implementation efforts were completely underway; and (4) the savings estimates were realistic.

GAO found that many of the issues studied and recommendations made by the Commission had overall merit and that, while many have already been implemented by legislative or administrative action, many more require additional legislative action to be fully implemented. However, GAO questioned the accuracy of many of the associated savings estimates, found flaws in the methodology used to develop some of the estimates, and found that the description of the methodology used in some estimates was insufficient to allow an assessment of its validity. In most of the instances where GAO questioned the methodology used, it believed that the savings were overstated. GAO supported management improvement issues more frequently than policy-oriented issues; however, policy-oriented issues constitute a large portion of the total estimated savings. GAO does not support restructuring federal subsidy programs and fixing federal health care costs to a percentage of the gross national product, and it disagreed with selected aspects of recommendations to reduce civilian and military retirement benefits. GAO support was most extensive in the areas aimed at strengthening federal management systems, federal automatic data processing operations, federal credit and cash management efforts, and civilian procurement and property management activities. GAO has made similar or related recommendations in nearly half of the areas in which it agreed with the Commission. Additional legislative action would be necessary to fully implement approximately half of the recommendations analyzed.

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