Welfare Programs:

Opportunities to Consolidate and Increase Program Efficiencies

HEHS-95-139: Published: May 31, 1995. Publicly Released: May 31, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed low-income families' participation in multiple welfare programs, focusing on: (1) program inefficiencies; and (2) issues to consider in consolidating welfare programs.

GAO found that: (1) federal expenditures for the 80 welfare programs that provide assistance to low-income recipients totalled $223 billion in 1993; (2) many low-income families are eligible for and receive assistance from multiple programs; (3) most families receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) are also eligible for Medicaid and food stamps; (4) welfare programs are difficult for needy families to access and for program administrators to operate; (5) numerous programs target the same clients, share the same goals, and provide similar services, creating program overlaps which add unnecessary administrative costs and complicate service delivery; (6) given their size and complex structure, welfare programs are inherently vulnerable to fraud and abuse and little is known about their effectiveness; (7) state governments and local providers have sought to streamline program operations and service delivery, but their efforts are hindered by the patchwork of federal programs and funding streams; (8) Congress is considering consolidating specific federal programs, such as employment training, child care subsidy, and housing programs; and (9) it is important to ensure that federal funds are used effectively regardless of how welfare programs are ultimately restructured.

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