The federal government could save more than $100 billion over the next decade by reducing fragmented, overlapping, or duplicative programs and services that lead to government waste, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.
In its 13th annual duplication and cost savings report, GAO identified 100 new matters and recommendations in 35 new topic areas for Congress or federal agencies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government. Some of the biggest potential savings identified in the report come from improvements to Medicare payments within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), nuclear waste disposal within the Energy Department, Navy shipbuilding, and IRS enforcement efforts.
“Congressional and agency action in these areas has yielded about $600 billion in cost savings and revenue increases. Addressing remaining matters and recommendations could save tens of billions more dollars and improve government services,” the GAO said in a summary of its report released this week.
The GAO issues annual reports on federal programs, agencies, offices, and initiatives that have duplicative goals or activities and also identifies additional opportunities for greater efficiency and effectiveness that could result in cost savings or enhanced revenue collection.
Fragmentation refers to instances when more than one federal agency (or more than one organization within an agency) is involved in the same broad mission and opportunities exist to improve service delivery and efficiency.
Overlap occurs when multiple agencies or programs have similar goals, engage in similar activities or strategies to achieve them, or target similar beneficiaries.
Duplication is when two or more agencies or government programs are engaged in the same activities or provide the same service to the same beneficiaries.
Some of the largest areas of financial benefit to the federal government and taxpayers from the GAO report include:
- Medicare Payments by Place of Service: Congress should consider directing the Secretary of HHS to equalize payment rates between settings for evaluation and management office visits and other services that the secretary deems appropriate, which could create financial benefits of $141 billion over 10 years, per Congressional Budget Office (CBO) data.
- Nuclear Waste Disposal: The Department of Energy may be able to reduce certain risks by adopting alternative approaches to treating a portion of its low-activity radioactive waste and create tens of billions of dollars in financial benefits in the process, per GAO data.
- Navy Shipbuilding: The U.S. Navy could improve its acquisition practices and take steps to ensure ships can be efficiently sustained and create financial benefits of billions of dollars, GAO data showed.
- Medicare Advantage: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services could better adjust payments for differences between Medicare Advantage plans and traditional Medicare providers in the reporting of beneficiary diagnoses and create financial benefits of billions of dollars, per MedPAC data.
- Internal Revenue Service Enforcement Efforts: Enhancing the IRS’s enforcement and service capabilities can help reduce the gap between taxes owed and paid by collecting tax revenue and facilitating voluntary compliance. This could include expanding third-party information reporting, which could save billions of dollars, per Joint Committee on Taxation data.
- Congress could reauthorize the First Responder Network Authority by 2027 to ensure the continuity of the public-safety broadband network and collection of potential revenues of billions of dollars over 15 years, the report states.
- Foreign Military Sales Administrative Account: Congress should consider redefining what can be considered an allowable expense to be charged from the administrative account of the Defense Department which could create financial benefits of tens of millions of dollars annually, per GAO data.
The new additions to the report fall on top of the 1,885 that GAO has identified in prior reports. Of those, Congress and agencies have fully addressed 1,239 — about 66 % — of those existing items.