What GAO Found
GAO’s specific assessment of progress as of February 10, 2012, showed that 4 (or 5 percent) of the 81 areas GAO identified were addressed; 60 (or 74 percent) were partially addressed; and 17 (or 21 percent) were not addressed. Enclosure I presents GAO’s assessment of the overall progress made in each area. GAO applied the following criteria in making these overall assessments for the 81 areas. We determined that an area was:
“addressed” if all actions needed 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.
As of February 10, 2012, the majority of 176 actions needed within the 81 areas identified by GAO have been partially addressed. Specifically, 23 (or 13 percent) were addressed; 99 (or 56 percent) were partially addressed; 54 (or 31 percent) were not addressed.
Streamlining federal efforts, reducing government costs, and enhancing revenue collections can offer financial and other benefits. Today, and concurrently with this report, GAO issued its second annual report to Congress in response to the statutory requirement that GAO identify federal programs, agencies, offices, and initiatives with duplicative goals or activities. That report identifies 51 additional issue areas and numerous actions within those issue areas that, if implemented, may further improve programs’ effectiveness and efficiency, achieve cost savings, and enhance revenues.
Opportunities exist for the Congress and federal agencies to continue to address the identified actions needed in our March 2011 and February 2012 reports. Collectively, these reports show that, if the actions are implemented, the government could save tens of billions of dollars annually. A number of the issues are difficult to address and implementing many of the actions identified will take time and sustained leadership.
Why GAO Did This Study
In March 2011, GAO issued its first annual report to the Congress on potential duplication, overlap, and fragmentation in the federal government. The report also identified opportunities to achieve cost savings and enhance revenues. We identified 81 areas—which span a wide range of government missions—with a total of 176 actions that the Congress and the executive branch could take to reduce or eliminate unnecessary duplication, overlap, and fragmentation or achieve other potential financial benefits. We also presented areas where programs may be able to achieve greater efficiencies or become more effective in providing government services. In many areas, we suggested actions— identifying some new options, as well as underscoring numerous existing GAO recommendations—that policymakers could consider. This status report provides an overall assessment of progress in implementing actions for the 81 areas, as well as an assessment of each of the 176 suggested actions.
As of February 10, 2012, the Congress and the executive branch had made some progress in addressing the majority of the 81 areas that we identified, including the implementation of all actions in 4 areas; however, additional steps are needed to fully implement the remaining actions to achieve associated benefits. GAO suggested a wide range of actions for the Congress and the executive branch to consider, such as developing strategies to better coordinate fragmented efforts, implementing executive initiatives to improve oversight and evaluation of overlapping programs, considering enactment of legislation to facilitate revenue collection, and examining opportunities to eliminate potential duplication through streamlining, collocating, or consolidating program efforts or administrative services.
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