On May 12, 2021, GAO released its 11th annual report highlighting opportunities to reduce fragmentation, overlap, and duplication in federal programs—as well as chances to save money and increase revenue.
We identified 112 new actions that Congress and executive branch agencies could take to save money and improve efficiency and effectiveness of government programs and activities.
Notable examples include:
- The Office of Management and Budget should improve how agencies buy common goods and services—such as medical supplies and computers—by addressing data management challenges and establishing performance metrics. These actions could help save billions of dollars over the next five years and potentially eliminate duplicative contracts.
- Federal agencies could better coordinate fragmented cybersecurity requirements and related assessment programs for state agencies, potentially minimizing the burden on states and trimming millions of dollars in associated federal and state costs.
- The Department of Health and Human Services could improve coordination of its infectious disease modeling efforts to better identify duplication and overlap among agencies, a move that could enhance the federal government’s ability to plan for and respond to disease outbreaks.
Read our press release about the 2021 annual report—issued in May 2021—to find out more.
September 2021 Update
On September 28, 2021, GAO issued an additional report about progress on the actions we have identified in our annual reports since 2011 on federal programs with fragmented, overlapping, or duplicative goals or actions and ways to reduce costs or boost revenue.
Further steps are needed to fully address the more than 1,200 actions GAO identified from 2011 to 2021.
We estimate that fully addressing the remaining 441 open actions could result in savings of tens of billions of dollars and improved government services, among other benefits. For example:
- The Department of Energy may be able to reduce certain risks by adopting alternative ways to treat low-activity radioactive waste, saving tens of billions of dollars.
- The U.S. Navy could save billions of dollars by improving its acquisition practices and ensuring that ships can be efficiently sustained.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs could improve access to long-term care for veterans by implementing a more consistent approach to it.
Congress and agencies have made significant progress in addressing many of the 1,200 actions that we identified from 2011 to 2021. These efforts have resulted in approximately $515 billion in financial benefits, an increase of $85 billion since our 2020 report.
The status of our proposed changes can be followed on our Action Tracker—an online tool that monitors the progress Congress and federal agencies have made in addressing the actions we’ve identified.
GAO’s Action Tracker is an interactive online tool that tracks the progress that Congress and federal agencies have made in reducing duplication, overlap, and fragmentation—and reducing costs and increasing revenue—that GAO identifies in its annual report. Fully addressing every action in this tool would result in tens of billions in savings for the federal government.
The federal government is spending a lot more money than it is collecting, and addressing this imbalance will require changes to both federal spending and revenue policies.
However, Congress and federal agencies could act now to address federal programs or activities that are fragmented, overlapping, or duplicative—which would save the government tens of billions of dollars.
The total savings associated with this work is a rough estimate based on a variety of sources. For more information on our methods for calculating these savings, please visit our report.
Definitions of Fragmentation, Overlap, and Duplication