Government Efficiency and Effectiveness: Additional Opportunities to Reduce Fragmentation, Overlap, and Duplication and Achieve Billions of Dollars in Financial Benefits

GAO-22-106064 Published: Jun 14, 2022. Publicly Released: Jun 14, 2022.
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Fast Facts

Each year, GAO reports on federal programs with fragmented, overlapping, or duplicative goals or actions, and we have suggested hundreds of ways to address those problems, reduce costs, or boost revenue.

We testified about our 12th annual report—where we identified 94 new actions that Congress and agencies could take to address these findings.

Congress and agencies made significant progress in addressing many of the nearly 1,300 actions we suggested. These actions have yielded approximately $552 billion in cost savings and revenue increases. Addressing remaining actions could save tens of billions more dollars and improve government services.

Photo of money stacked reading "Tens of billions of dollars could be saved if Congress and executive branch agencies fully address actions we've identified."

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Highlights

What GAO Found

GAO's 2022 annual report identified 94 new actions for Congress or executive branch agencies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government. For example:

  • The Department of Energy could pursue less expensive disposal options of nuclear and hazardous waste, such as immobilizing waste in grout, which could help save tens of billions of dollars.
  • Contracting leaders at federal agencies should use metrics measuring cost reduction or avoidance to improve the performance of their procurement organizations and potentially save billions of dollars annually.
  • Congress should consider directing the Department of Health and Human Services to implement additional payment reductions for Skilled Nursing Facilities with high rates of potentially preventable hospital readmissions and emergency room visits, potentially saving hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicare costs.
  • The Internal Revenue Service could improve taxpayer service and better manage refund interest payments, potentially saving $20 million or more annually, by establishing a mechanism to identify, monitor, and mitigate issues contributing to refund interest payments.
  • The Social Security Administration could potentially save millions of dollars by identifying and addressing the causes for overpayments to disability beneficiaries in its Ticket to Work program.
  • The Department of Defense could improve various administrative services, such as by better managing fragmentation in its food program and strengthening ongoing initiatives to reduce improper defense travel payments, potentially saving millions of dollars in those programs.

Congress and executive branch agencies have made consistent progress in addressing many of the 1,299 actions that GAO identified from 2011 to 2022 to reduce costs, increase revenues, and improve agencies' operating effectiveness, although work remains to fully address them. These efforts have resulted in approximately $552 billion in financial benefits, including about $531 billion of the total benefits accrued through 2021 and approximately $21 billion that is projected to accrue in 2022 or later.

To achieve these benefits, as of March 2022, Congress and executive branch agencies have fully addressed 724 of the 1,299 actions GAO identified from 2011 to 2022 and partially addressed 240 actions. However, further steps are needed to fully address the actions GAO identified from 2011 to 2022. GAO estimates that tens of billions of additional dollars and improved government services could be achieved should Congress and executive branch agencies fully address the remaining 469 open actions.

Why GAO Did This Study

GAO issues annual reports on federal programs, agencies, offices, and initiatives—either within departments or government-wide—that have duplicative goals or activities. As part of this work, GAO also identifies additional opportunities for greater efficiency and effectiveness that result in cost savings or enhanced revenue collection.

The May 2022 report, GAO-22-105301, discussed new opportunities for achieving billions of dollars in financial savings and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of a wide range of federal programs. It also evaluated progress in addressing actions identified in GAO's previous 11 annual reports.

In addition, the recent report provided examples of open actions where further steps by Congress and executive branch agencies could yield significant financial and non-financial benefits.

This statement discusses

  • new issues identified in GAO's 2022 annual report;
  • the benefits Congress and executive branch agencies have achieved in addressing many of the actions GAO has identified since 2011; and
  • examples of open actions recommended to Congress or executive branch agencies that could yield significant financial and non-financial benefits.

For more information, contact Jessica Lucas-Judy at (202) 512-6806 or lucasjudyj@gao.gov or Michelle Sager at (202) 512-6806 or sagerm@gao.gov.

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